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Change of Scenery

Posted by on Oct 5, 2016 in Fiber, Manufacturing, Recycling, Sustainability, Team Building, Textiles / Fabrics | 0 comments

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We’ve been busy at REvolve since our last update. As always, we have been focused on empowering leaders from diverse industries to collaborate, innovate, and catalyze circular textiles. We’ve got some great work behind us, more ahead, and one incredibly exciting announcement…

Traci has accepted a project management position with Circle Economy. Circle Economy is a social enterprise organized as a cooperative, and they are focused on accelerating the transition to circularity through the on the ground, action focused development of practical and scalable solutions. This is her kind of work, and the role is an incredible opportunity to lead a robust group of global stakeholders in developing two critical components of the circular textile infrastructure: a textile trading platform and an automated fiber typing machine.

Circle Market is a global, online marketplace for the recovery, reuse, and resale of textile materials. When development is completed, it will be a widely available tool curated specifically for textile waste diversion. Brands and retailers can use it to look for a redistribution channel which won’t degrade their existing markets instead of destroying and discarding unsold garments to protect their brand. Apparel manufacturers will be able to seek reuse or recycling avenues for production waste more efficiently than ever before. The second hand garment industry will be able to build new vertical markets and find new customers. Circle Market is poised to become the go-to place for responsible, global textile redistribution.

Fibersort is a textile recycling geek’s dream come true. To understand the significance of this technology, consider traditional recycling. Glass, aluminum, and paper must be separated and recycled using different processes, because they are different materials with very different properties. Textiles are similar in that everything we wear is also made from different fibers with very different properties. In order to recycle effectively, materials must be identified and grouped in homogenous batches. Fibersort can automatically separate garments by fiber type, making the sorting process more accurate and efficient than ever before. It is the only device of its kind, and it is the most promising solution to a key challenge in textile recycling: creating homogenous inputs.

Today’s apparel industry uses a linear Take > Make > Discard model, and for the past three years REvolve’s purpose has been to help shift the industry toward circularity. These two tools are key to returning textiles to the supply chain. They enable a shift away from resource extraction to landfill and into a circular model, which means fewer natural resources will be needed to clothe humanity. We’re thrilled Traci will be a part of this work… as she says: This. Is. Huge.

At the end of October she will relocate to Amsterdam for 18 months to work for Circle Economy. During this time, REvolve will continue to serve our clients and pursue new circular textile projects in collaboration with leaders from diverse industries. Please note, our availability to hold workshops in the US will be limited.

Reach out with your thoughts or questions, and stay tuned for more updates from Holland!

Exciting New Partnership

Posted by on Oct 5, 2016 in Fiber, Manufacturing, Recycling, Sustainability, Textiles / Fabrics | 0 comments

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The apparel industry continues to call for more sustainable solutions, less impact, and a shift toward circularity. New initiatives are launched with growing frequency, and this summer’s big announcement has upped the ante.

In July of 2016, Inditex and Lenzing announced a partnership to advance circular textiles. According to an article on ecouterre.com, retail giant Inditex plans to expand its collection, reuse, and recycling program for textiles. Part of the effort will be through increasing unwanted garment collection throughout Spain. Another area of focus will be reclaiming manufacturing waste using Lenzing’s new cotton recycling technology.

An important detail for non-geeks to understand is manufacturing scrap, not garments, will most likely feed the recycling process during the program’s early phases. However, even if garments collected through the initiative are simply reused or down cycled in the short term, the partnership signals big apparel’s growing interest in reclaiming textile resources.

Inditex is one of the largest apparel retailers in the world, and they join the likes of H&M and Forever 21 on the fast fashion circuit. Lenzing is a globally recognized producer of viscose and other cellulosic fibers who market themselves as a sustainable fiber producer. Collaboration between companies of this size and reach could have a significant impact on the future of sustainable apparel. The level of impact will be a direct reflection of each company’s commitment to work through the inherent challenges of textile recycling and desire to achieve industry transforming results.

Apparel is a competitive industry, and this partnership could also increase the pace of recycling technology development on the whole as well as spur the formation of new alliances between brands and developing textile to textile recycling technologies. We hope it results in more investment for these technologies and a catalyzation of deeper brand and retailer involvement in the advancement of circular apparel systems and infrastructure.

The race to create a circular apparel industry is a challenging but necessary endeavor, and technologies, brands, and retailers are undoubtedly watching to see what happens next. Hopefully they use this announcement as an opportunity to strengthen their efforts to collaborate and reach the finish line of new, commercially viable recycling solutions. Alliances such as the partnership between Lenzing and Inditex hold a great deal of promise for the future… Let’s hope other industry leaders see this as a chance to create a better apparel industry and follow suit.

NPR Talks Textile Waste!

Posted by on Sep 13, 2016 in Education, Manufacturing, Recycling, Sustainability, Textiles / Fabrics | 0 comments

It was a pleasure to speak with John Hockenberry at The Takeaway about textile waste and recycling last week. Check it out the interview here.

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Image from wync.org

ROC: Saving Clothes, Helping People

Posted by on Apr 24, 2016 in Case Studies, Human Capital, Recycling, Sustainability | 0 comments

ROC: Saving Clothes, Helping People

Over the past three years, REvolve has initiated and executed projects that more clearly define and utilize the wide range of value embedded in textiles. An incredible opportunity presented itself in the fall of 2014, when we partnered with Portland non-profit Central City Concern (CCC) to divert left behind textiles from landfill and redistribute them to people in need.

CCC operates a robust housing program for people who are transitioning from homelessness into self-sufficiency. These individuals are particularly prone to experiencing crises, which can lead to them abruptly leaving their homes. In this case, people leave behind assorted items: clothes, linens, housewares, etc, most of which CCC was forced to throw away if they remained unclaimed. In addition, CCC has thousands of new clients and residents enter their programs every year, many of whom arrive with few possessions.

Instead of sending what is left behind to landfill, there was an opportunity to provide new clients access to the items that are still in good condition. In order to accomplish this goal, a sorting and redistribution system to manage thousands of pounds of clothing and other housewares every month needed to be developed and implemented.

Together, REvolve and CCC launched a pilot project whose goals were to divert as much as possible from landfill, help those in need, and provide insight into new frameworks for textile collection and sorting. CCC was so encouraged by the pilot’s results, they adopted the program, created a new Recycling and Reuse Coordinator (RRC) position to staff it, and built out a space to continue the effort. This new facility is appropriately named the Recycling and Reuse Operations Center (ROC).

CCC has achieved an 84% diversion rate on clothing, footwear, linens, and housewares processed at the ROC. From the launch of the pilot in October 2014 through March 2016, more than 10 tons of clothing and housewares have been saved from landfill. At the current volume, the program will save approximately 15 million gallons of water and 173,000 pounds of CO2 emissions through textile reuse and recycling every year*.

REvolve is thrilled and honored to be a part of this work, and we are excited to incorporate what we’ve learned during this project into textile sorting and redistribution models that will support closed loop textiles.

 

* Approx. 2/3 of the ROC’s total volume is textiles. Calculations are based on a pilot program textile diversion rate of 90%, an average monthly ROC volume of 3000 lbs, and impact data from the Bureau of International Recycling. The ROC diversion rate of 84% is for textiles and other materials combined.

Download the Case Study

 

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H&M, 1 Million Euro, and the Future

Posted by on Sep 22, 2015 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

There have been a number of sustainability competitions and cash awards in the past few years, and H&M’s recent effort to promote recycling technologies is another great example of a larger industry shift. All of these initiatives are great, necessary, and we certainly hope to see an explosion of better, lower impact fibers in the market as a result.

But what about the technologies that already exist? Evrnu, Recover, Re:newcell, Worn Again, Unifi, and Teijin (along with many other recyclers and brands) are blazing trails toward a brighter future with better products. While these solutions are not perfect, they are innovative, motivated, and headed in the right direction. Which begs the question…

Do we need more recycling technologies?

Yes, AND… there are big gaps between business as usual and widespread use of better fibers. The two biggest, from our perspective, are #1) lack of knowledge and #2) getting old clothes to feed recycling technologies.

#1: Brand Education

Product doesn’t magically create itself… People design, manufacture, market, and distribute the products we buy. And a large proportion of these people do not understand how they can make small decisions both at work and at home to increase the use of better fibers.

In order to change the industry as we know it, brand employees have to know how to make better choices, big and small. Brand employees are also a powerful force within their communities. When they speak, others listen. If they talk about great product made in a better way, consumers will listen and begin to demand more of it.

#2: Clothes to Feed Technologies

Simply put, it’s really hard to recycle old clothes into new ones. It’s expensive to prepare them for recycling technologies, and far too many are still thrown away. A cost-effective system to collect, sort, and prep old clothes to be made into new ones simply does not exist. This is both a challenge and a great opportunity.

We are thrilled to see more companies looking at improving the apparel industry. These efforts should be focused first on helping brand employees make great choices, next on making it cheaper to recycle used garments, and finally on creating new technologies for the future.

Team Offsites Begin Sept 2015!

Posted by on Jul 30, 2015 in Education, Recycling, Sustainability | 0 comments

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Textile Recycling 101

Be In the Know. Create Better Product. Change the Industry.

 

Contact Us

 

Building better product starts with understanding what happens at the end of a product’s life. You wouldn’t attempt calculus without knowing basic math, and you can’t build a truly sustainable product without considering its entire lifecycle.

Explore how products can be reused and returned to the supply chain to reduce our industry’s impact. REvolve shares the latest insights on closed loop textiles through hands-on activities, projects, and discussions.

There are end-of-life solutions available for your products today and more in development for the future. Learn how your team can join the change agents transforming how apparel and footwear are made.

 

Discover:

 

Textile Recycling Today and Tomorrow

Explore the second life of apparel and footwear today. Learn about the key players, prevalent practices, and what technology is in development. Uncover options to make the right impact for your team and your company.

Reuse, Upcycling, Downcycling, Recycling

Understand these terms in a context that relates to your business. Discuss the pros and cons and how you can use each to recover lost textile resources. Begin creating a strategy to build a better supply chain for the future.

Consumer Engagement + Take-Back Programs

New take-back programs are launching all the time. Learn the most common practices and evaluate what a successful program could look like at your company.

 

Content comes from cutting edge companies focused on closing the loop, collaborative research with sustainability experts, and our recent head-first dive into textile recovery. We are offering a limited number of sessions in 2015. You don’t want to miss this

Contact Us

Happy Birthday. Get a Job.

Posted by on Jul 13, 2015 in Fiber, Human Capital, Recycling, Sustainability, Textiles / Fabrics | 2 comments

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This week marks REvolve’s 2nd birthday, and we are thrilled to announce a huge step toward our ultimate goal:
Our charity partner Central City Concern (CCC), a Portland-based organization focused on providing comprehensive solutions to ending homelessness and achieving self sufficiency, will permanently implement textile management into their operations, and they are hiring a recycling and reuse coordinator to do it! Our pilot was the catalyst for this role, which will be focused on managing and redistributing textiles and other abandoned recyclables. For us, there is truly no better birthday gift.

REvolve has always been about waste reduction for community benefit. Ultimately, the goal is to capture a significant volume of something we throw out and extract the value in a way that helps local people… Education. Job creation. New opportunities. Think FDR meets Captain Planet in the 21st century.

Turns out, textiles are the perfect “waste”, and Portland is the perfect place for our work. We have spent the past 10 months doing a pilot project for textile management with CCC, who describe themselves in three words: homes, health, jobs. During the course of the pilot we collected and sorted nearly 4 tons of clothing, the majority of which came directly from abandoned property in CCC housing. Before this pilot, these items were thrown away.

REvolve built a process to manage these textiles and redistribute them within CCC’s programs and throughout the community. Today our system recovers 86% of the charity’s abandoned textiles for reuse or recycling.

REvolve will continue to work with CCC to ensure a smooth transition from pilot project to formal program, and, of course, we’ll keep you updated along the way. Let’s do some (more) awesome!

Recycling and Reuse Coordinator position details are here.

More info on CCC is here.

True Cost: A Truly Portland Friday

Posted by on Jun 3, 2015 in Human Capital, Manufacturing, Recycling, Sustainability, Textiles / Fabrics | 0 comments

It doesn’t get much more Friday in Portland than biking across town to watch a groundbreaking documentary in an independent theater. How lucky is it to live in a place where that’s just a normal Friday night?!? As the movie ran, I sat in the dark knowing the people who made the damp cotton shirt sticking to my skin would never be so fortunate.

True Cost focuses on the negative human and environmental impacts of the fast fashion world, again highlighting many of the issues Elizabeth Cline called out in her book three years ago. It is an exceptionally well made look into a world we have chosen to ignore for decades. After experiencing manufacturing in developing countries, it is impossible to un-see the massive waste or un-breathe the grimy air. While the factories I’ve been in are undoubtedly some of the cleanest, safest, and worker-friendly, too many brands still produce in places like Rana Plaza.

This movie did a tremendously powerful job of showing the human and environmental tragedy behind the things we put on our bodies. Shima, a 23 year old factory worker living in the city of Dhaka, must leave her little girl behind to be raised by relatives in her village. Shima wants her daughter to have a better life than those of factory workers who can be beaten or killed by management for demanding safe working conditions and basic rights. She believes the clothing we wear is made with their blood, and she is right.

Clothing is NOT a disposable item, and we must reclaim the blood that was lost in making it. Watch this movie, understand the real impact of the stuff filling our closets, and tell everyone: Donate, reuse, or recycle your old clothing… Don’t throw it away! #notdisposable #recycleclothes #revolvewaste

What Are the Most Sustainable Fabrics?

Posted by on May 7, 2015 in Design, Fiber, Sustainability, Textiles / Fabrics | 0 comments

Designers ask this question a lot. The savvy offer up personal favorites, including organic cotton, hemp, bamboo (ugh), and anything recycled.

So what’s best?

It depends… No matter what fabric goes into a product, there will be benefits and drawbacks.

Plant-based fibers are natural and renewable. They also need water to grow, and water is scarce. Animal fibers are natural and renewable, but chemicals are commonly used to control pests, and humane practices are not universal. Polyester is a petroleum-based product (as are other synthetics), and we all know this is not a renewable resource. But did you know poly requires very little water to make (compared to cotton), and it can be recycled multiple times?

Products aren’t more or less sustainable just because of the fabric. There is more to it…

The best products:

  • Have a transparent, ethical supply chain
  • Are built to last
  • Match textiles to product performance needs
  • Use only 1 or 2 fiber types (total, including thread)
  • Include recycled content and / or organic raw materials
  • Do not use spandex or lycra
  • Were manufactured in efficient facilities that create little waste
  • Include reuse / recycling info during the initial purchase

 

Sadly, few products today meet all of the criteria above, but truly sustainable ones can check at least half of those boxes. How does your closet (or portfolio) stack up?