© Royal HaskoningDHV / Dutch aWEARness

According to Textile World organisation, the fashion and textiles industry accounts for approximately 10 per cent of the total global carbon impact. The sector is a major consumer of water, land, chemicals and other resources for manufactures of fibres and fabrics whereas manufacture of garments is often interlinked with employment and social issues in many parts of the world.

EcoProFabrics has been developed as an initiative to significantly reduce the environmental impact of the sector and show beneficial social conditions by connecting partners in the chain and up-scaling into the market garments manufactured and delivered in line with Circular Economy principles. Developed by sustainable fashion company Dutch aWEARness, EcoProFabrics is managed by Royal HaskoningDHV with both companies leading the design and implementation of the project's circular economy structure.

Garments in this value chain are made of Infinity fabric, made from 100% polyester fibre which is fully suitable for recovery and reuse. The aim of EcoProFabrics is to supply garments to work wear users in at least 5 EU countries starting with production of 30,000 garments in a period of 3 years. The project runs from 2013 to 2016 and is sponsored for 50% by the EU Eco-Innovation Initiative.

What does it involve?

The heavy environmental impact of fashio and textiles industry is caused by the current business model of continuous manufacture, short use and consequent disposal of garment products. The EcoProFabrics project aims to introduce a new business model based on 100% reusable fibres. In such business model the used garments are collected, recycled and the recovered materials serve as input for the production of the 2nd generation fibre and fabric. Materials are not lost via incineration or disposal sites but are used in a continuous circular flow.

What makes this project innovative - in addition to the fabric and take-back chain development - is the development of the Circular Content Management System (CCMS). This system is the central transparent management and information system, as it records and processes data on organisation, finance, logistic, material use and environmental performance of the entire chain. It also incorporates a new way of making life cycle assessments (LCA) which helps formulate sound Circular Economy Key Performance Indicators for further use as well as replication in other industries.

The project is supported by the EU Eco-Innovation Initiative, which acts as a sponsor for innovative SMEs to enter the market with new products or services that protect the environment. The following companies are involved in the project: Becker Tuche (fabric manufacturer), Jasmine Mode and Latino Group (garment manufacturer), Dutch aWEARness (chain manager, leading party), EcoChain (Life Cycle Assessment and IT solutions), Royal HaskoningDHV (project management) and Van Schoot Pompcentrum BV and Bukk Fashion Support BV (for embroideries and logistic support).

Status quo

In 2015, the EcoProFabrics team has completed important partnerships in order to make the circular economy in textiles work. These partnerships are based on “ingredient branding” strategy, meaning the team is able to offer chain management services to an extensive range of work wear companies. The guarantee for circular clothing is the Dutch Awearness brand “Dutch Awearness Inside”.

2015 was also a year when a range of high quality Infinity fabrics, suitable for corporate wear and work wear, have been developed together with our new project partner Becker Tuche from Germany. The highlight in terms of launching customers was the safety coat for GEA Refrigeration that was developed in close cooperation with Latino Group from Portugal. The coat is fully tailored to GEA needs and certified accordingly. Furthermore, dedicated rain jackets and trousers have been developed and launched with Royal HaskoningDHV. As chain director, Dutch Awearness needs to know what materials are used in the chain and what their real-time location is in the chain. For this purpose the Circular Content Management System (CCMS) was developed in cooperation with Improvement IT from the Netherlands. The tool is the Dutch aWEARness circular track and trace system that manages the resource & products flows in the chain in a transparent and efficient way. The system will be launched in the upcoming months with the chain partners.