ST. GEORGES, Quebec, Canada – June 12, 2015 — Four years after their first meeting to explore possibilities to close the loop on their textile waste, Designtex, Steelcase, Victor and Unifi continue to collaborate and build on this important initiative with ongoing advancements in driving sustainable innovation. The four companies established a program whereby textile waste from Victor and Designtex products at Steelcase’s Athens, Ala., manufacturing facility is segregated, collected and sent to Unifi’s Repreve® Recycling Center in North Carolina to be recycled into first quality Repreve fiber. The yarn is then sent to Victor and developed into new woven fabrics for Steelcase and Designtex.
With the goal of taking this closed loop initiative to the next level, the team met again in St. Georges, Quebec, to discuss further expansion of this circular economy model. Based on this platform, the traditional supply chain is being redesigned, as Steelcase becomes a supplier of raw materials to Unifi. Having addressed the complicated logistics of waste reclamation, the focus of the team has now shifted to expanding the product waste collection and growing the impact, while providing more secondary raw materials for new product development by Victor, Designtex and Steelcase.
The product offerings are expanding with Designtex previewing four new styles based on the closed loop platform at Neocon 2015, which are featured in the new Designtex + West Elm Workspace collection. Designtex will continue to tackle the design challenge to create new products that also enable future recyclability.
“We believe that the new model for material supply chains needs to be a circular one, and this collaboration is a good demonstration that it is both possible and profitable,” said Susan Lyons, President of Designtex.
From a product design standpoint, Victor’s emphasis on sustainable products and processes, as well as their vertical operation, has enabled them to develop new yarns and fabrics with the closed loop componentry that align well with the product directions of both Designtex and Steelcase. In addition to being developed with recycled polyester components, the closed loop fabrics are designed and manufactured for recyclability.
“This unique initiative represents more than just an innovative recycling program for our industry’s waste. It shows how collaboration at multiple levels of the supply chain can enable us to develop better business models for the future,” said Alain Duval, President and CEO of Victor.
Unifi’s ongoing technological advancements in recycling textile waste into first quality fibers have enabled the success and growth of the closed loop program. Unifi continues to expand its raw material feed stocks, recycling capabilities, and capacity for recycling textiles and plastics.
Just as important to the success of this program is the commitment by Steelcase to implement a system to identify, segregate and collect fabric waste to support future production of the closed loop yarn and further expansion of this circular economy model.