On the road to circular textiles
In his inspiring EU Regions Talk, Professor Jan Mahy of Saxion University of Applies Sciences envisions a totally circular textile industry There is no need for textile waste.
Circular Textile – the facts
Liane van der Veen, Manager Energy and Circular Economy at the Regional Development Agency Oost NL sets the scene and focusses on the urgency of creating circular business models in East Netherlands, as well as throughout Europe. Only by doing so will we be able to reach the climate goals set out by the European Union, and will Europe be able to maintain it’s global competitive edge. She introduces Jan Mahy, professor ‘Smart Functional Materials’ and leader of the researchgroup ‘Smart Functional Materials in Textiles’ at the Saxion University of Applied Sciences in Enschede and invites him to give his vision on the road to circular textile.
In Square, as part of the European week of Regions and Cities, professor Mahy starts his EU regions talk with a confronting fact. “Only 1% of textile is being recycled”. Research of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation confirms this. Millions of tonnes of virgin fibre material are downcycled, contributing to an ever-increasing carbon footprint. Before proposing solutions, he starts by giving an overview of the developments in the textile industry during the past half century. This has resulted in a current yearly loss of material in textile clothing worth €100 billion.
Circular Textile – the vision
There is no need for textile waste, or loss as professor Mahy prefers to call it. Textiles can be key to a more sustainable world. Starting with shaping a circular textile value chain: this means adapting manufacturing processes and circular business models, and radically changing the way the global community, that means us, deal with using and discarding textiles. This ambition is formulated in the 12th UN Sustainable Development Goal on responsible consumption. Hopeful in this respect is the Fashion Pact that was signed this summer in Biarritz at the G7 Summit. Also the European Technology Platform on the future of textile and clothing is clear. It advises to create a new circular and customized textile value chain based on the principles of sustainability, customers centricity and digital feasibility. Only with disruptive innovation can these three elements be combined.
Circular Textile in East Netherlands
So what’s so special about East Netherlands? Its innovative ecosystem with industrial textile production, fashion design, research instutes and universities of applied sciences. These traditional assets are now being transformed in the textile value chain of the future. An important step on this road to circular textile is made by the foundation Texplus, which consists of representations of the entire value chain. One of them is Saxcell, specialised in chemical recycling. Combined with mechanical recycling this offers a unique proposition for the recycling market. Thus developing a regional circular business model, based on the recycling of post consumer textile. The innovative projects and initiatives have to be replicated throughout Europe. In order to really impact responsible consumption. Professor Mahy ends his EU region talk with the call for action in the European Stragic Agenda. He calls for European cooperation in partnerships, the right policy incentives, involvement of the consumer and large investments for upscaling.