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OnceMore® by Södra, ICA to repurpose old workwear into new textile fiber

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2021-12-21 13:33:49 – Sweden

OnceMore® by Södra is thrilled to be collaborating with ICA, Sweden's leading grocery retailer, to divert 56,000 worn colored workwear from incineration and turn them into new textile fibers.

The groundbreaking collaboration will begin with workwear from ICA's Maxi stores being shipped to Södra's Mörrum pulp mill in southern Sweden's OnceMore® production line. Instead of being incinerated, these garments will be used to create up to 28,000 new garments. This is the first time in Sweden, and maybe the world, that colored workwear made of blended materials will be recycled and repurposed for new textile fibers on a commercial scale.

Angeline Elfström, OnceMore® Business Development Manager, said that one of the largest obstacles in textile recycling is that fabric rarely consists of pure fibers. They separate cotton and polyester from polycotton, one of the most extensively used textile kinds in the world, using the OnceMore® method. Cotton cellulose is mixed with cellulose from sustainable, renewable wood sources.

Elfström said that until now, they've only accepted white textiles for OnceMore®, primarily from the hotel business in the shape of towels and bed linen. This is the first time they'll recycle polyester/cotton blend workwear, and it's also the first time they'll be able to do it with colored fabrics. As far as they know, this is the first large-scale effort of its kind.

Anders Axelsson, Head of Sustainability Strategy and Development at Ica, added that they were looking for a solution to give their used workwear a new lease on life instead of designating thousands of items as garbage and incinerating them, as is the situation currently. OnceMore® by Södra provides the circular solution they were looking for, as well as the capacity to handle a large volume of clothing.

Catrin Gustavsson, Executive Vice President at Södra Innovation, said that this is a clear example of what can be achieved through collaboration in the supply chain, as well as another first for OnceMore® by Södra. The project helps bring the fashion industry a significant step closer to a more circular business model. It's a positive step toward better textile value chain producer accountability. So far, they've been very pleased with their progress. It demonstrates what can be accomplished when all parties in a project work together.

ICA Sweden is the largest grocery retailer in Sweden, with roughly 1,300 outlets and a market share of around 36%. Its Maxi stores offer a large choice of food and non-food items, as well as homeware, entertainment, and gardening supplies, all under one roof.

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