Circular Economy in the Finnish Textile Business
Circular economy is not only recycling. It is a new economic model involving companies in all sectors. The Finnish textile and fashion industry is leading the way in circular economy. We want to promote a change – from linear to circular production.
From linear to circular – closing the loop
The circular economy aims to keep textile materials and their value in circulation as long as possible. In the textile and fashion industry, these practices have developed at a rapid pace over the past few years.
The use of textiles has grown steadily in the recent decades. At the same time, the average number of using each product has decreased. Global trends, such as population growth and depletion of natural resources, challenge companies to look for new solutions to continue to be successful in the future.
The traditional linear way of producing textiles means using virgin materials, which are processed into products, and later turn into waste. This generates a high consumption of raw materials and generation of waste.
The circular way of production is a combination of old and new. It consists of an ecosystem of e.g consumers, retail, logistics, services (such as rental and repair), refinement of waste, as well as reuse, upcycling and recycling of materials. In such ecosystem, textiles are repaired, re-used as products or materials, and recycled as fibres or as raw materials for new products in other industries.
The overall goal is to maintain the value of materials as high as possible, with minimum environmental impact.
Circularity means getting rid of waste and using less of the limited natural resources; keeping the things that have already been created in circulation for as long as possible.
A Finnish ReHub in the making
A sustainable and accountable textile ecosystem is based on circular economy. This supports the Finnish aim of becoming a carbon neutral circular society by 2035.
The separate collection of textiles will start in the EU by 2025. In Finland we have an ambitious goal of starting the separate collection of textiles already by 2023.
There are two Finnish companies that have invested in refinement plants for recycling end-of-life textiles in Finland: these are Rester Ltd and Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto (LSJH).
Rester Ltd. focuses on the collection and treatment of B2B and public sector textile waste streams, whereas LSJH is developing a nationwide operating model for post-consumer textile waste streams together with 28 other municipal waste companies. Their new refinement plants will start operating in 2021.
These two operators will play a key role in the Finnish ReHub (see below the video) by collecting and processing textile waste streams and offering regenerated fibres for other operators.
In line with the EU ambitions of the Green Deal and the transition to circular economy, the current waste challenges can be turned into a business opportunity for SMEs and large businesses. It can also create new jobs.
EURATEX, the European Apparel and Textile Confederation has proposed the development of European Textile Recycling Hubs (ReHubs).
We aim to have one of these ReHubs in Finland.
Our developing circular economy ecosystem could provide a solution to textile waste refinement nationally and for the other Nordic countries and the Baltic region.