Circularity is the holy grail of sustainable clothing production and by creating a new global recycling infrastructure, the Swedish workwear manufacturer Fristads just took a big leap forward towards this goal. Through the new recycling process, Fristads will minimise waste, reduce the use of virgin materials and help close the loop on their production. It also makes Fristads well positioned to meet the requirements of the forthcoming Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation for clothing.
“We have been working on reducing the environmental impact of our production for years, but we also recognise the need for innovative close-the-loop solutions after the garment is at end-of-life. Our new recycling process will help solve that piece of the puzzle and ensures that we keep our edge when it comes to leading the workwear industry on sustainability,” said Anne Nilsson, Director of Marketing and Sustainability at Fristads.
The global recycling infrastructure is the brainchild of Fristads’ Benelux office, which has been in the forefront of developing successful circular solutions together with some of their large customers. Last year, a recycling process developed in the Netherlands was certified, making Fristads the first clothing producer in the region that can guarantee the traceability of recycled closed loop raw materials. Now, the Dutch model will serve as a blueprint for implementing and scaling up recycling on all Fristads’ markets.
Many different uses for end-of-life garments
Once the new infrastructure is in place, Fristads, through its local recycling partners, will collect used garments from customers and take them to a recycling facility, where they will be sorted depending on their condition. Based on the results from the Dutch model, Fristads estimates that 2% of the workwear will be processed into fibres for yarn that can be used to make new garments, a figure that will grow to 5-10% in the coming years. Approximately 80% will be recycled in other ways, for example to make filling for car interiors and material for the construction industry. The remainder consists of clothes that are too soiled to be recycled and will be used as fuel for energy.
Each customer will be able to easily access all data on the amount of clothing that has been collected, how it has been repurposed and the amount of CO2 and water that the process has saved. The data gives Fristads’ customers tangible statistics on their environmental record, which can be communicated both in their sustainability reporting and to the end consumer.
“The recycling industry is gradually improving its ability to handle textile waste, which is necessary to decrease the environmental impact of clothing. We are pleased to do our share by creating a good return flow in the Netherlands that we will roll out on each of our markets, step by step,” said Hugo Vedder, Product Specialist at Fristads Benelux. “One of the challenges of creating a global recycling infrastructure has been that our markets are at different stages of implementing EU legislation on Extended Producer Responsibility for textiles, but our new process makes us well prepared to meet the requirements.”
EPR legislation shifts the financial and logistical responsibility for managing end-of-life textiles from municipalities to manufacturers, importers and resellers of clothing. France was the first European country to implement EPR for clothing in 2007, but new legislation is pending in several other countries, including Sweden, the Netherlands and Finland, as well as the EU.
Fristads has challenged and driven the development of durable and functional workwear since 1925, always with professional workers in mind and with innovation and sustainability as drivers. Our range of clothing includes classic as well as contemporary garments for a wide range of industries and our garments are made to meet the highest standards when it comes to quality, safety and comfort. Fristads is part of Hultafors Group, which is owned by Investment Latour AB and offers a broad portfolio of products and brands catering to professional craftsmen. Read more about Fristads at www.fristads.com.