15 November 2016

Pilot project aims to produce new workwear from old clothes

Can used clothing be turned back into its component materials and then used to create more clothing? Dutch waterways, public works and environment authority Rijkswaterstaat (RWS) is coming to the end of a unique pilot project that trialled this concept. As part of the project, around 50 lock stewards – who spend their days on the Netherland’s waterways - were issued with caps, polo-shirts, raincoats and fleece jackets made of 100 per cent recyclable polyester materials.

Supplied by innovative manufacturer Dutch aWEARness, the season’s uniforms are handed in following use to be ‘dematerialised’ into their component raw materials. According to the manufacturers, this ‘new from old’ process could be repeated up to eight times. The benefits of this approach are significant: no new raw materials (or perhaps very few) are needed for new workwear, and no waste has to be burned.

The experiment is part of the European REBus (Resource Efficient Business Models) project, in which RWS is working with the market to evolve business models for dealing responsibly with raw materials. If the pilot project is evaluated as a success, new RWS tenders could place increased focus on environmental aspects, not just for workwear but for hosts of other products.

For more information, click here [PDF].