From discarded textile to new thread

In Zaanstad, an important step has been taken to close the loop in textile manufacturing by tackling the growing mountain of waste produced by what is currently one of the most polluting industries. Wieland Textiles, Brightloops|Loop.a life, Leger des Heils ReShare and the Municipality of Zaanstad signed a partnership agreement on Friday, 23 November as a first move towards establishing the Dutch Center for Circular Textiles (DCCT). Its aim is to connect municipalities and companies throughout the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area (AMA), from all links in the textiles chain: from the collection of used textiles to the production of new ones.

Volumes of textile in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area

In the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area, the annual supply of textile available as waste is around 36,500 metric tons (around 15 kilograms per inhabitant per year). Around 15% of the textile is recycled according to circular principles. Most of the remaining 85% is processed into low-grade products or resold overseas as wearable clothing. There is great potential to reduce the amount of unrecycled textile waste: around 28% is reusable as a product and 51% as a material, while only 21% can only be processed as non-recyclable waste.

Circular textile chain

In a completely circular chain, in several steps, discarded textiles are processed into thread or felt to make new high-quality textile products. The DCCT, which is to be located in Zaanstad, will initially focus on companies in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area to close the loop in the local chain. The partnership between Leger des Heils ReShare (LdH), Wieland Textiles and Brightloops|Loop.a life connects a number of important links in the chain: the collection, intensive sorting and production of high-grade raw materials for textiles, such as fibres and threads, with which new textile products are manufactured.

 “This brings us closer to the ideal of ensuring that within five to ten years, every garment is made of at least 20% recycled material.” Hans Bon – Wieland

Balanced business case at the beginning of 2019

The partners are currently working with financial support from the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area on preparing a business case (in the first quarter of 2019) to gain insight into the missing links in the chain, such as a mechanised fiberisation plant, or knitting or weaving machines, and to create the conditions needed to develop innovations in collaboration with market players in the fashion, workwear, interiors and building material sectors, and with academic institutions.

“This partnership is an important first step towards an entirely circular textile chain. It’s logical that this step should be taken in the Zaanstad area: its location in the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area means there is a large stream of discarded textiles, and there are numerous companies in sectors such as fashion and interiors that can process the new materials and affiliate with the DCCT. Not only is the development necessary, given the large quantities of waste and hence new materials, but it also offers our region and municipality major opportunities for sustainability and local employment.” Sanna Munnikendam, Alderperson for Sustainability and Circular Economy, Municipality of Zaanstad

Did you know?

The average Dutch wardrobe contains 173 items of clothing, of which around 50 are largely unused. Dutch people buy an average of 46 new items of clothing a year and throw 40 garments a year away. Of these 40 garments, only 16 are re-used or recycled. We own on average seven second-hand garments per person. These findings are based on the wardrobe contents of 50 survey participants. The Dutch do consume less clothing than the Danish, Germans or British. To grow a kilogram of cotton, 10,000 litres of water are needed. This is easily 2,500 litres for a shirt, and more than 7,000 litres for a pair of jeans. All this water is taken from rivers, lakes or aquifers, which creates water shortages for local people, and is detrimental to soil quality.

Role of the Board

The Amsterdam Economic Board helped to set these developments in motion by conducting thorough market research and bringing together the parties concerned within the scope of the Board’s material transition programme. This is the collaborative programme in which waste streams such as textiles are combined and upgraded at the scale of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area to create new material streams.

Read more

This is part 6 of a series of articles on the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area’s resource transition programme.


Foto: Pascal Fielmich | Van left to right: Damir Dulovic (Municipality of Zaanstad), Ellen Mensink (Bright Loops Loop.a Life), Sanna Munnikendam (Alderman Zaanstad), Hans Bon (Wieland Textiles), Els Lenting (gemeente Zaanstad en Simon Smedinga (LdH Reshare).

23 November 2018

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