THIS WAY YOU KNOW FOR SURE WHETHER COMPANY CLOTHING IS REALLY SUSTAINABLE
Sustainability, it’s a theme I’ve written about before. That is not surprising, because more and more companies are working on this. Yet it often remains a vague story. Because how can you be sure that the clothes you wear are recycled? And how sustainable is sustainable then? We have been in the dark for a long time, but we are now working on a standard that shows you exactly how sustainable (company) clothing is.
I spoke with Shirley Schijvens, owner of Schijvens Corporate Fashion. She is involved in the realization of this. In addition, she uses a system that makes her clothing traceable. This way you know exactly where your clothes come from. very interesting! Time to dig deeper into this…
SHIRLEY, THE FIRST THING I’M CURIOUS ABOUT IS WHAT EXACTLY IS GOING ON WITH THAT STANDARD. WHY IS THERE A STANDARD AND HOW BADLY IS IT NEEDED?
”It is very important that a guideline is drawn up for circular textiles. Because nowadays many companies say that they are involved in this, but it means something different for everyone. One only takes back clothing while the other then also makes a new product out of it. In addition, the chance of greenwashing, pretending to produce circular clothing, is high.
That is why we are now working on an NTA, a Dutch Technical Agreement. This is done in collaboration between companies, the trade association and the NEN. As soon as this standard is implemented, all companies that claim to make circular textiles will have to comply with it. At the moment we are working together with the NEN so that we have a Dutch standard, but in the future I expect that this will also be implemented at European level. Then it will become an ISO standard.”
CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHAT COMPANIES MUST MEET IN ORDER TO QUALIFY FOR THIS STANDARD?
”Because not every company makes one hundred percent circular textiles, there are different levels. Roughly four can be distinguished here. First, you have the level of reuse. This means that garments that have been worn but not yet worn are re-worn. Think, for example, of employees who leave employment and hand in their work clothes. This can easily be worn again by another employee.
Secondly, as a company you can also choose to repair clothing. You don’t hear much about that in practice, but this is a very good way to extend the life of clothing. Because a small hole or a broken zipper does not mean that a piece of clothing has to be discarded. At Schijvens we have an internal workshop where clothing is repaired. The only drawback is that there are few people in the Netherlands who are good at this. Fortunately, I have an employee who is from Somalia and had his own sewing factory there. He is delighted to be able to continue his profession here again. We have already repaired 20,000 items of clothing in our own workshop.
The third level is that of remanufacturing. It is important that you do not throw away old clothes, but reuse them for something. These can be different purposes. Think of reusing for bags or other accessories.
And finally, there is the level of recycling. The old clothes are used to make new clothes. Depending on the fabric, you sometimes have to add extra raw materials. With clothing made of 100% polyester clothing, you can literally turn one shirt into another new shirt. But with cotton you have to add other raw materials. This can also be waste such as PET bottles.
AND WHERE IS SCHIJVENS WHEN YOU LOOK AT THESE LEVELS?
”When it comes to circular textiles, we have been at the highest level for years. We recycle our clothing and use waste as much as possible for additional raw materials. In addition, we are affiliated with the Fair Wear Foundation and we are one of the companies that score the highest there. In addition to circularity, we also find it important that the people who work in the factories are treated well.
But it doesn’t stop there for us. We are always looking to see if we can make clothing even more sustainable. For example, we have our own workwear line, called T’riffic. First we started with a Fair Wear collection in which all clothing is made under good working conditions. Attention is paid to matters such as a living wage instead of a minimum wage and minimizing overtime.
Since two years we also have T’riffic Circular, our second clothing line. This clothing is not only made under good conditions, but is also made from 100% recycled material. That’s where we ultimately want to go; only clothing made from recycled yarns. To realize that, we also take all our clothes back. Both from both T’riffic lines and the clothing that we custom develop for companies such as Albert Heijn , Intratuin, Kruidvat and CSU.”
– The interview continues below the photos –
To give you an idea of the T’riffic clothing line I have added a number of photos with items from the collection. The jeans come from the Fair Wear line and the rest is from the T’riffic Circular line. All tops therefore consist of 100% recycled materials. The garments are fairly basic and can therefore be worn in different ways. Casual with, for example, work shoes or representative with suspenders and smart shoes. For companies, it can also be easily personalized by having logos printed or embroidered on it.
YOU’VE BEEN AT THIS FOR A LONG TIME. BUT HOW DO PEOPLE KNOW FOR SURE THAT COMPANIES ACTUALLY ADHERE TO THE STANDARD?
”Of course it is important that it is not just a beautiful story. You also have to be able to prove it. That is not so easy at the moment. Saxion University of Applied Sciences is now looking into whether you can use a laboratory to investigate whether substances have been recycled. They’ve come a long way in that. We expect that this technique can already be used this year.
We now use Aware . This is a system with which you add a special kind of powder to the fibers you use to make textiles. In our case, it therefore concerns old textiles and waste from which we make new clothing. The textile is traceable by means of this powder. And that is very important because the making of the yarn, the weaving of the fabric and the assembling of the clothing takes place in different countries. So you have no idea in practice.
As soon as we receive our clothing, we can use a special scanner to see whether the powder has been incorporated into the fabric. Because the fabric is scanned at every manufacturer, we can ultimately follow the entire process. This way we can see where and when our materials arrive. In this way it is also not possible to just add other material. Because then we can see that again. All this data is stored in a blockchain (a reliable and up-to-date register) so that manufacturers cannot change things themselves.”
DO YOU EXPECT A SYSTEM LIKE AWARE TO BECOME POPULAR IN THE FUTURE?
“In the future, producers of, among other things, circular workwear will have to be able to demonstrate their working method. At least, if they want to meet the standard. Then a system such as Aware is very useful. At the moment we are the only one in the Dutch industrial clothing market that uses this.
I hope that fashion companies will also join this in the future. And that an unambiguous system is set up by the government with communication to the consumer.”
THAT SOUNDS FANTASTIC! THIS MAKES IT EASIER FOR BOTH COMPANIES AND CONSUMERS TO PURCHASE SUSTAINABLE CLOTHING. IS IT ACTUALLY POSSIBLE TO BUY YOUR CLOTHES AS A CONSUMER?
Out, A. (2021, June 27). This way you know for sure whether company clothing is really sustainable – . Retrieved on June 27, 2021, from https://prettybusiness.nl/zo-weet-je-zeker-of-bedrijfskleding-echt-duurzaam-is/