A sustainable value chain for textiles
TenCate develops and produces fabrics for workwear and safety wear. Furthermore the company wishes to contribute to the reprocessability of uniforms and workwear, which is why it is involved in the activities of Texperium in Haaksbergen. This is an open innovation centre for applied research into high-end reuse of textile. The R&D departments of TenCate can play a role in this − after all, they know what materials and processes are used in manufacturing fabrics.
Texperium fouses on the development of technology for textile recycling and product development with regained fibres. The foundation wants to promote the processing of textile waste into products with added value. Within this context the foundation brings together suppliers and sorters of textile waste, reprocessors, (textile) manufacturers and the potential users of regained raw materials, with a view to jointly developing a technology to convert textile waste into raw material for new, high-end products. Therefore the aim is to make this textile chain not only more sustainable but also economically attractive through the creation of new market opportunities.
Together with TÜV Rheinland, Texperium has developed a system for the reliable and certified elimination of textile with a risk profile. This could be army or fire service uniforms based on TenCate fabrics. Not every customer wants the remains of such clothing to reappear in the circuit as a recognizable product. Therefore a good deal of industrial clothing and uniforms are now burned for safety considerations. ‘That’s a shame,’ feels Peter Bos. Just like Gerard Reimert and Anton Luiken, he is an initiator and member of the board of Texperium. They have been involved in innovations in textile recycling for years. ‘Textile can be reused two to four times, thus extending the life span by six to eight years. That’s why this clothing with a risk profile is converted into reprocessable fibres in a safe environment and according to a certified procedure.’
To achieve high-end reuse, the chain must work together. Many parties have yet sort things out. ‘It’s by cooperation that you can create a collective awareness. Texperium and TenCate can’t do it alone. You have to form chains of additional complementary companies within the chain. Everyone has their own expertise. By coupling this knowledge, you get complementary chains. Ecology and economy must be in balance – only then is it sustainable.’