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Project Plan B: the creation of a circular solution for the textile industry

January 13, 2020
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‘We believe every industry has the potential to reduce their impact on the environment. We want to be the catalyst for positive change in the textile industry.’ Andy Moulding, Business Development Director, Project Plan B

The issue of sustainability is widespread and complex, garnering attention across the textile industry due to the substantial amount of water-waste and produce dumped in landfills. All businesses, textile-centered or otherwise, are having to consider their practices in sustainability.

The beginning of the journey

One company has taken innovative development to the next level. Project Plan B’s aim is to find and provide alternative solutions.

Their journey started by providing a manufacturing solution to less flexible, larger corporations; pulling together resources and expertise from across the globe to deliver bespoke garments.

While delivering these projects Project Plan B are increasingly confronted by the garment industry’s demands for lower prices, higher volumes, and quicker turnarounds. It is of paramount importance that their working environment ethics aren’t compromised in order to cut prices. 

Project Plan B currently work with long standing partners to deliver manufacturing solutions. These partnerships are built on regular visits, audits and working together daily to achieve joint goals and aims.

‘Our partners are like family; over the years we have worked together tirelessly to deliver fantastic products,’ James Holmes, Production Director stated. ‘We work in line with the Ethical Trading Initiative Basecode and are a member of Sedex.  Our ethics are of the greatest importance to us.’

It is clear that Project Plan B’s ethics encompass the planet and the climate as well as the people they work with. The change in industry demand led them towards a far greater issue that needed solving; that of waste, resources, CO2 emissions and of climate change. Project Plan B embarked on a dedicated project to reflect this.

Process and development

Project Plan B started by looking at using recycled fabrics, but quickly realised that this was not going to be enough if the garment just ends up in landfill after use.

‘Nearly 90% of UK workwear ends up in landfill or incinerated every year’[1]

The project needed to address not only the use of non-renewable resources in producing fabric, but the longevity of garment life, and the disposal at end of life.

They needed a circular solution.

Having researched possible recycling options for end of life, they realised the importance of keeping value in the chain. If value is constantly downcycled, it is less economical for businesses and more likely to end up as waste at some point down the line.

Project Plan B began working with fabric mills to develop a recycled yarn that could be recycled again without a loss in value. They then ensured that this yarn would have all the properties required for commercial success; a super soft hand feel, wicking capabilities and the ability to take an anti-bacterial treatment. It was imperative to set about designing garments to be recycled. Designing with the end of life in mind from the beginning allowed problems to be solved before they are created.

Drawing on their research and resources, Project Plan B created solutions which led to the first samples of 100% recycled polyester polo shirts. Each garment carries the Project Plan B mark identifying them as designed to be recycled using their quality recycled threads. These garments can then be recycled back into a high-grade raw material suitable for carding, spinning and knitting or weaving into the fabric of new garments.

In this way, Project Plan B created a closed loop circular system through which materials can be used again and again whilst maintaining purity and value.

Project Plan B’s solution:

  • All our garments are made from 100% recycled materials
  • Every garment is designed to be recycled
  • Each garment can be 100% recycled by Project Plan B

The future of Project Plan B

‘The global economy is not a force of nature – it is made of a million decisions. It is designed. And it can be redesigned.’[2]

Project Plan B aims to be the catalyst for positive change in the textile industry and hopes that other companies will follow to provide 100% recycled ranges. Everyone has the potential to make positive change, and they are keen to share what they have learnt to help others achieve the same.

‘We will keep pushing boundaries, innovating and sharing knowledge to achieve the positive change we believe the textile industry is capable of,’ stated Tim Cross, Managing Director.

Moving to recycled polyesters dramatically reduces the CO2 cost of garments. Project Plan B are working with the European Regional Development Fund, the Impact Lab and the University of Plymouth to conduct Life Cycle Assessments for the whole journey of our garments. This will allow them to focus in on specific areas and minimise CO2 as effectively as possible. It also allows them to compare against different garments and new developments, to test their CO2 cost before deciding which direction to expand upon.

The Project Plan B mark is key to the success of this project. They aim to gain widespread appreciation and understanding of the Project Plan B mark to enable more garments to be recycled.

They are also conducting research in partnership with university specialists into micro plastics and the release rates from difference knits in the washing machine. Their aim is to be able to provide a widespread, affordable solution to significantly reduce the shedding of fibres when washing.

The next step in recycling is to expand on their current research and development to provide a circular solution for all clothing sectors.

If you require more information about Project Plan B and their work, please visit their website at www.projectplanb.co.uk or email info@projectplanb

Make sure to check out Project Plan B’s social media! Find the links below:

Twitter

LinkedIn

Instagram

[1] Wrap Review of Corporatewear arisings and opportunities 2012

[2] Ellen MacArthur Foundation Tweet, 03.12.19