There are many opinions surrounding recycled fashion, some support it and some do not care enough to support it. But, for a fact recycled textiles have a longer lifespan which helps to toss less and save more. It has been clear that the earth is not capable of absorbing huge amounts of clothing that is produced each year, that is why recycled materials are so important and have a vital impact on the environment.
This season IFN Fashion Tv together with Dress X, The Fabricant and Boer group collaborated for sustainability focused editorial with a 2 part interview, which showcases the importance of long lasting wear.
Boer group , an international all-round textile recycling company where not only the collection and sorting, but also trading and innovation is central. A place where wasted clothes are saved and turned into quality materials. Corporate Communications Executive Mariska Zandvliet-Boer shares her thoughts on sustainability and describes the importance and impact that recycled fashion has.
Marija Vasileviciute: How would you define the importance of Boer Group making steps towards more sustainable clothing for the future? What impact does it have?
Mariska Zandvliet-Boer: When we talk about sustainable clothing we address eco-design criteria. This criteria needs to be kept in account within the design phase of the clothing and essentially compromise of three things;
Clothing of durable quality that can be (re)worn many times
Recyclable clothing (avoiding the use of materials which hamper the recycling processes)
Clothing containing post-consumer recycled textile content
Boer Group facilitates optimal re-use of clothing suitable to be worn again through a detailed and specialized sorting process. The process is aimed to match the demand of 2nd hand markets with the quality of the items present in discarded textiles. Clothing which is not suitable to be worn again is recycled. Meaning we use the material where possible for sustainable new applications. Through our operations we manage to annually ‘save’ over 110 million kg of textiles from becoming waste.
Marija Vasileviciute: What is the most challenging part of textile recycling?
Mariska Zandvliet-Boer: The most challenging is the diversity of the discarded textiles and the lack of innovation to tackle technical difficulties to separate the textile material for recycling purposes.
First, it is not just clothing or textile people throw away but also shoes, belts, bags, toys, accessories. So after removing impurities (household waste) an item-based selection is the first step to select what is reusable from that which is not. Any garment or textile (related) product that is fit to be used again should be sorted and directed to 2nd hand markets. There is a huge demand for 2nd hand clothing worldwide (more than 70% of the world population) and with 2nd hand becoming more mainstream in Europe we expect this demand to grow further. In order to tackle the growing pile of textile waste the steps in the waste hierarchy should be followed. Starting with re-use.
After re-use recycling needs to follow. We already find approximately 30% of the discarded textiles not suitable to be re-used or worn again. These items are graded on material/fabric basis and either cut into wipers/cleaning cloths or they are shreddered to textile fibers which can be used in so called non-woven fabrics used often in the car industry or as isolation materials. The problem with the current textile recycling techniques is that the fiber length is shortened which makes the fiber unfit to be spun into a thread again with adding virgin content.
Marija Vasileviciute: What needs to change in the fashion industry as a whole for it to become more sustainable?
Mariska Zandvliet-Boer: Fashion producers and designers need to take a responsibility for what happens with the clothing they produce at the end of its lifecycle. You cannot throw cheap textile trash on the market and not take responsibility for the fact that it cannot be worn again or recycled. As I mentioned eco-design plays a key role but it should not be merely on a voluntary basis. A legal framework in which producers are rewarded to apply eco-design criteria or penalized when they deliberately do not is needed to make the change here. It will not happen if we leave it up to the industry alone.
Marija Vasileviciute: What is the best thing that consumers can do to lower environmental footprint in clothing consumption?
Mariska Zandvliet-Boer: There are a couple of things consumers can take into consideration here. The first is to buy 2nd hand clothes instead of new. By doing this they prolong the life of garments and help to ensure a stable 2nd hand market in Europe. Secondly, wash your clothes only when needed. This keeps the clothes in better shape and prevents unwanted micro-plastics into the environment. Last but not least take note of the labels in the clothing and try to verify their content. The best option is to buy clothes with recycled textile content inside. This way the demand for recycled content will grow pushing innovation and improvement of quality of the recycled textile fibers.
Marija Vasileviciute: What are your future long-term goals for Boer Group?
Mariska Zandvliet-Boer: Our core business is sorting for re-use and we plan to keep doing that as much and as well as we possibly can. We valorize the textile waste stream supplying tailor-made 2nd hand clothing and textile products. We look forward to expanding our business through our own 2nd shops in Europe and in co-operation with retailers and brands.
For clothing not suitable for 2nd hand use we strive for the most sustainable solutions which will help to transform the linear system into a circular textile chain. Through Boer Group Recycling Solutions we are developing textile recycling techniques together with our international partners which aim to recycle discarded textiles into raw materials, either for use in non-textile product but preferable for production of new textiles.
Creative direction / production coordinator: Marija Vasileviciute https://www.instagram.com/marija_vas/?hl=en
Photographer / editor: Lina Lman https://www.instagram.com/lina.lman/?hl=en
Model: Laura Terschure Mix Models https://www.instagram.com/mixmodels/
Make up artist: Divine Tayrus https://www.instagram.com/divinetayrus/?hl=en
SPECIAL THANKS TO:
Boer group https://www.boergroup.eu/
Beauty Bar Baarn https://www.instagram.com/beautybarbaarn/?hl=en