Talking Textiles: Engaging with young consumers on the life-cycle of our clothes

 

The global fashion and textiles industry is taking steps towards a circular economy system. In the process, it becomes increasingly clear that we need to understand the behaviour and perceptions of consumer groups, and engage closely with them in creating a more circular model of production, consumption and disposal.

Within the European-funded project Resyntex, which develops new recycling technologies for textile fibres, Prospex Institute organised a series of interactive “Citizen Labs” in four European countries. We met young consumers at their schools, universities and hobby centres in the UK, France, Italy and Slovenia. We ran an interactive workshop over their lunch breaks, with a blend of interactive activities (such as the sorting of a pile of textile waste) and online surveys covering behavioural patterns. The work was developed in close cooperation with researcher Sara Li-Chou Han from the Manchester Fashion Institute.

In our Citizen Labs, we found out more about the use phase of participants’ garments and the sort of services they use when they want to get rid of clothes (and why they throw them away in the first place). We also addressed the factors that affect shopping and purchasing behaviour, ranging from trends and peer pressure to sustainability as well as “made in…”-labels.

The results, which are currently being analysed in further depth by the Manchester Fashion Institute, show surprising consistency across the four locations. We found that price and quality are the most crucial factors driving purchases, outweighing aspects of sustainability, ethics and origin (fibre content, fair trade, local produce). Interestingly, quality considerations were found to be more important than pricing in three out of four case study results.

The most used disposal options are the bin, the charity and/or second-hand shop, and the textile bank. Consumers who have never or rarely brought their clothes to dedicated banks or used clothing shops, claim it is simply not convenient enough (due to the absence of close-by collection points in the neighbourhood), while others point to a lack of information and transparency on what subsequently happens to their clothes. Rather than giving away, young consumers also tend to sell items of clothing online, or exchange them through social media platforms.

Of crucial importance if we want to move to a regenerative system in which materials keep cascading in a loop, is that the assessment of potential reuse and recyclability is primarily done through the lens of the product in itself – consumers do not consider the material contained within it, and have limited awareness of the potential of material recycling, rather than product reuse.

 

The Value Chain Workshop, Second Edition

On 22nd and 23rd of March Prospex Institute organised the second Value-Chain Workshop in Lyon. Regrouping stakeholders from across the value-chain, the aim of this second edition was to look into the viability of industrial symbiosis approach. With a focus on PET and Polyamide fibres the participants shared their views and insights of the market with the Resyntex team.
Taking place in the beautiful apartment of MaPièce, the two-day event brought together people from different background with different focus and allowed for fruitful discussions and helpful observations to be taken on by the Resyntex team. The results of the workshop will be compiled in a comprehensive report and sent to the project team as well as to the participants.

Resyntex Value Chain Workshops: where textile and chemical industries intersect

The circular economy is becoming real – through projects like Resyntex, funded under the EU’sHorizon 2020 Pogramme.

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Prospex Institute is part of Resyntex, which develops innovative recycling technology to transform textile waste into singular fibres, and subsequently into marketable chemicals which can be used in a wide range of applications, from adhesives to PET-bottles. Resyntex tries to turn an established system (take – make – dispose) upside down. In the Resyntex-model, your holey socks and stained t-shirts that currently end up in landfill are recycled back into secondary resources.

Our mission in Resyntex is simple: we bring together a select group of industry stakeholders from different parts of this innovative and circular value chain. We invite fashion retailers, collectors, recyclers, chemical processing companies and end-users of the feedstock to sit around the table and exchange thoughts and experiences, in a participtory, highly interactive, and very intense two-day workshop. Together we try to envision a future circular market, in which the textile and chemical industries are connected in closing material loops

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 10.46.03What are the market opportunities for recycled textile fibres? What does it take to repurpose our current infrastructure and what are the switching costs involved? In a shared and open conversation, we collaboratively design a circular value chain. Through first-hand multi-stakeholder insights, and a dynamic of co-design and co-creation, we deliver first-hand recommendations to our team of researchers and ultimately, to the European Commission. As the EU is rolling out the Circular Economy Action Plan, such stakeholder-integrated R&I is a crucial building block in closing the loop.

Resyntex Value Chain Workshops: where textile and chemical industries intersect 

 

The circular economy is becoming real – through projects like Resyntex, funded under the EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme.

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 10.41.48

Prospex Institute is part of Resyntex, which develops innovative recycling technology to transform textile waste into singular fibres, and subsequently into marketable chemicals which can be used in a wide range of applications, from adhesives to PET-bottles. Resyntex tries to turn an established system (take – make – dispose) upside down. In the Resyntex-model, your holey socks and stained t-shirts that currently end up in landfill are recycled back into secondary resources.

Our mission in Resyntex is simple: we bring together a select group of industry stakeholders from different parts of this innovative and circular value chain. We invite fashion retailers, collectors, recyclers, chemical processing companies and end-users of the feedstock to sit around the table and exchange thoughts and experiences, in a participatory, highly interactive, and very intense two-day workshop. Together we try to envision a future circular market, in which the textile and chemical industries are connected in closing material loops

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 10.46.03What are the market opportunities for recycled textile fibres? What does it take to repurpose our current infrastructure and what are the switching costs involved? In a shared and open conversation, we collaboratively design a circular value chain. Through first-hand multi-stakeholder insights, and a dynamic of co-design and co-creation, we deliver first-hand recommendations to our team of researchers and ultimately, to the European Commission. As the EU is rolling out the Circular Economy Action Plan, such stakeholder-integrated R&I is a crucial building block in closing the loop.

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Designing industrial symbiosis in the circular economy

On 7 and 8 December 2017, we organised our first Resyntex Value Chain Workshop in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on the prospects for textile fibre reuse in a circular economy.

Designed and facilitated by Prospex-Institute, the two-day workshop gathered key industry stakeholders to assess the viability of industrial symbiosis approaches such as the one developed by the Resyntex team, where outputs from the textile industry become marketable secondary resources for the chemical industry. With a focus on market demand, technological performance, resource availability and policy incentives, we gathered vital inputs from experts and practitioners, enriching the further development of the Resyntex project. The next value-chain workshop will take place in Lyon on the 22nd and 23rd March 2018 and will focus on polyamide and polyester fibres.

Second Round of Citizen Labs in Maribor

On 4th and 5th December 2017, Prospex Institute organised a second round of Citizen Labs in Maribor, Slovenia, together with the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) and the University of Maribor (UMARI). How are young pupils students disposing of old clothing and textile items? What are their motivations for buying clothes? Are they aware of the different recycling and disposal options for their textiles and clothes? Are they satisfied with those?

With these questions, we headed to the Prva Gimnazija, one of the biggest high-schools in Maribor, as well as the Engineering faculty of the Maribor university. In a facilitated and interactive Citizen Lab, mixing online and offline engagement, the pupils and students, aged between 16 and 25, shared their views on textile and clothing recycling and disposal options.

Through playful and interactive activities, these Citizen Labs will further our understanding of the purchasing and disposal behaviour of students when it comes to clothing and textile products. This will ultimately enable the RESYNTEX-project to design better strategies for increased collection of textile waste and improved consumer awareness and participation in take-back and recycling schemes.

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Not all textile waste is created equal: Resyntex Citizen Labs on shopping, disposal and recycling in Manchester

According to the World Resources Institute, roughly 20 pieces of clothing per person are manufactured each year. While today’s consumers tend to purchase 60% more clothing than in 2000, they keep it for about half as long. Understanding what consumers do with textile items and clothes they no longer want or need, is a crucial element of the RESYNTEX-project. By considering purchase, donation and disposal motivators, as well as by information and communication preferences, the project is carving out strategies to effectively communicate with citizens regarding responsible end-of-life options for clothes and textiles, and to widen citizens’ participation in textile collection schemes, thereby increasing supply of used clothes and textiles and diverting from landfill and incineration.

Citizen labs have been designed to be an entertaining and interactive way of collecting information about stakeholders’ behaviour when it comes to disposing or recycling clothes and textiles. Complementing the traditional survey with exercises where participants need to choose pieces of clothes and textiles and place those in their preferred disposal options for example, allows for a more exciting and ludic experience encouraging participants to share and explain their behaviours.

The RESYNTEX Citizen Labs follow on directly from the RESYNTEX stakeholder workshops, in which industry stakeholders pointed towards further citizen engagement as key to a successful circular economy clothing and textiles system. Stakeholders recognised that citizens were often lacking in their awareness and participation in textile reuse and recycling schemes, and that a more thorough understanding of citizen and consumer motivations for purchasing and disposal were necessary to empower and mobilise individuals.

 

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Engaging citizens on textile waste, disposal and recycling

The first round of the Resyntex Citizen Labs will take place in Manchester on the 5th and 6th October 2017. Resyntex is an EU project, looking at new ways of turning textile waste into a valuable resource, and keeping it out of landfill.
As part of the research, facilitators from MMU and Prospex Institute will be inviting participants to come and have a chat over lunch or dinner, and to share their views on fashion, clothing and recycling, which disposal and recycling options are currently available, and which ones are felt to be most attractive.
The event will be an informal focus group with fun activities and food, drink and refreshments provided. Those attending will also have a chance to find out more about Resyntex and how to stay in touch.

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TO SIGN UP TO ATTEND: Please go to bit.ly/RESYNTEX_MCR or email s.han@mmu.ac.uk

A stakeholder guide to textile circularity: Prospex Institute presents at the Fibre Recycling Symposium

On 7 and 8 June 2017, the Manchester Fashion Institute of the Manchester Metropolitan University hosted the International Fibre Recycling Symposium, with delegates from research, industry and retail. Prospex Institute, together with Sara Li-Chou Han from the Manchester Metropolitan University, took the floor to present the findings of our stakeholder consultations held in the context of Resyntex.

Examining textile waste routes and their corresponding mosaic of collectors, sorters and recyclers, we identified the key drivers and opportunities for textile waste collectors for a transition to more circular value chains. Through stakeholder engagement, our research proposes how conditions for collectors’ adoption of circular practices can be improved, while avoiding sectoral disruption and ensuring maximum effectiveness of the redesigned chain of secondary textiles.
Please find here the news article on the Symposium published in EcoTextile News.

Prato and Annecy Stakeholders Contribute to the EU Wide Picture of Textile Waste Opportunities and Possibilities

Key fashion, textile and waste management participants in Prato, Italy took part in the fourth and final RESYNTEX stakeholder workshop event on Thursday 6th April 2017, as part of the ‘stakeholder mapping’ stage of the research project. Attendees of the event at the Chamber of Commerce in Prato were hosted by RESYNTEX partners from Prospex Institute, Biochemtex, Dettin and Manchester Metropolitan University.


Participants ranged from wool recyclers, used textile collectors, manufacturers, retailers, waste management organisations, local authorities and sectoral platforms, as well as research and innovation specialists. RESYNTEX partners from Prospex Institute and Manchester Metropolitan University introduced the EU research project, before technical partners from Dettin and Biochemtex outlined the chemical and mechanical processes involved in the RESYNTEX processing model, and how the outputs from the process could be used to create systemic change to European manufacturing.


Local participants were then given the opportunity to identify where opportunities for the RESYNTEX model could fit into current opportunities in Prato, what issues would need to be addressed the realise the business model and who the potential customers and clients of the outputs would be. Workshop participants were able to contribute their local knowledge and insights into how regional activities could complete the RESYNTEX circular economy value chain, and what sort of benefits this could create for the region.

Participants were then encouraged to stay in touch with project to keep abreast of further developments involving the next stage of citizen research, and to attend the 6th International Fibre Recycling Symposium in Manchester to receive a fuller outline of all stakeholder outcomes and RESYNTEX partner research. Partners from Prospex Institute and Manchester Metropolitan University also visited local radio station Radio Italia Cina in order to reach out and connect with any international textile and garment stakeholders operating in the local Prato area.


This workshop event followed on from the third and penultimate stakeholder workshop event in Annecy, France on Tuesday 13th December 2017, hosted by local RESYNTEX partners About Goods Company and visiting partners from Prospex Institute, Quantis and Manchester Metropolitan University. At this workshop in Annecy, participants identified areas where waste textiles occurred locally, and how these were dealt with, by whom and in what form.
Attendees were also given an outline of the technical RESYNTEX process and participated in research and discussion on how local activities and business could fit in with the RESYNTEX process to create eco-friendly circular economy textile opportunities. RESYNTEX focus group workshops mapping stakeholder insights have now taken place in Manchester, UK; Maribor, Slovenia; Annecy, France and Prato, Italy.


The next stages of the research will analyse these insights to create optimised collection and processing strategies, lifecycle analysis and business modelling and will take in citizen and consumer perspectives on used textiles and recycled fashion and textile goods. To stay up to date with these developments please follow the RESYNTEX project on social media and at the 6th International Fibre Recycling Symposium in Manchester.