Circularity is the holy grail of sustainable clothing production and by creating a new global recycling infrastructure, Swedish workwear manufacturer Fristads has taken a big leap forward towards this goal.

Fristads has created a blueprint for a new global recycling infrastructure that will provide valuable statistics for use on companies’ environmental records.

Through the 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.
The global recycling infrastructure is the brainchild of Fristads’ Benelux office.

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.

Fristads UK, through its local offices, can accept used garments from customers and take them to a recycling facility, where they will be sorted depending on their condition. 

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 or contain too many components that cannot be recycled but will be used as fuel for energy and not taken to landfill.

Each customer will eventually 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.

Rob Freeman, UK and Ireland sales manager Fristads Solutions, said: “Some of the challenges of creating a global recycling infrastructure has been the recycling industry’s ability to handle textile waste and 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.”