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Opinion

Finnish companies at the forefront of textile recycling

This week Anna-Kaisa Auvinen outlines the abundant opportunities for textiles within the circular economy.

In Finland, 70 million kilograms of textiles are taken out of use every year, most of which is currently utilised as energy. However, the vast majority of this could also be reused as materials.

The global competition surrounding cost-effective solutions for the circular economy is fierce. Finnish companies in the textile and fashion sector have good opportunities to differentiate themselves in the international marketplace as pioneers of the circular economy.

Companies in the Finnish textile and clothing sector are thus working actively to develop suitable cost-effective solutions. In business models, product lifecycles can be extended with the help of services, such as rental and second-hand stores. In addition, materials can be utilised to manufacture other products, or fibres can be recycled to make raw materials for new products using either mechanical or chemical methods.

Several companies in the sector are involved in joint projects featuring companies, the public sector and research institutes, with the aim of promoting the development of the circular economy. To ensure that innovations and partnerships can be made commercially viable, discarded textiles should be seen as valuable raw materials, rather than waste.

There is business potential in utilising recycled textile material, as these textiles are suitable for use as raw materials in products such as padding in the furniture industry or insulation products in the construction industry. However, the road back to being reborn as new items of clothing is still long, as Finland does not have textile fibre production.

Finnish Textile & Fashion has published At the head of the circular economy – Solutions for textile recycling, which contains the examples of Finnish companies in the sector who have adopted new operating methods to ensure that materials remain in circulation for as long as possible. At last, other parties should see the new opportunities for growth in the circular economy of textiles.

Published on 09.03.2017