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Fristads launches their first circular product

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Swedish workwear manufacturer Fristads has cracked the code on circular production by creating a sweatshirt partially made of worn-out Fristads garments. Reusing fibres from worn-out garments to make new ones not only reduces waste, but also the need for virgin material.

“We have been working on reducing the environmental impact of our production for years, but we also recognise the need for innovative closed-loop solutions after the garment is worn out. Offering circular products in our assortment is an important milestone towards becoming a more sustainable manufacturer and ensures that we keep our edge when it comes to leading the workwear industry on sustainability,” said Anne Nilsson, Director of Marketing and Sustainability at Fristads.

Fristads’ first circular product is a sweatshirt made from 15 percent closed loop fibres created from collected used Fristads garments. To make the new fabric, the collected material has been shredded into smaller pieces and turned into fibres. The closed-loop fibres are then mixed with other fibres to make yarn.

“The share of circular fibres in the final product has been carefully chosen to safeguard our high quality. Our goal is to increase the amount of closed-loop fibres over time, as we continue to develop our circular solution,”said Lisa Rosengren, Head of R&D Raw Material at Fristads.

The first circular product, will have an Environmental Product Declaration (EPD), disclosing how much the environmental impact will be reduced by using existing fibres to make new ones.

Blueprint for recycling workwear
The launch of the first circular product is a result of almost three years of hard work, trying to find the optimal solution on how to secure the different flows in the process, as well as ensuring the quality of the material.

“It’s been a real journey to make sure all our demands are met, and we have learned a lot during the process. To finally be able to launch our first product made of circular fibres is an acknowledgement of our hard work and an important step for us in our work to reduce our impact on the environment, said Lisa Rosengren, Head of R&D Raw Material at Fristads.

Fristads’ first circular product development began in 2021 when a polo shirt was made partially from discarded garments from one of Fristads´ customers in the Netherlands. Via a joint pilot program, worn-out polo shirts were collected and recycled into new garments, effectively closing the loop on some of Fristads’ clothing production. The recycling process for the project was certified in 2022, making Fristads the first clothing producer in the region that can guarantee the traceability of recycled closed-loop raw materials for a specific customer. The Dutch model will serve as a blueprint for implementing and scaling up recycling on all Fristads’ markets.

Fristads’ first circular product will be available for order at fristads.com this spring.

Open-loop vs. closed-loop textile recycling

The terms open loop and closed loop are sometimes used to describe two different types of recycling flows. In an open-loop flow, textiles are collected and processed into other products, for example filling for car interiors, construction materials or insulation. In a closed-loop flow, the textiles are processed into new fibres that are mixed in with other materials and used to produce new clothes, creating a circular production. 

How the loop is closed
This is how the process of closing the loop looks, step by step.

  1. Collecting used workwear. Worn-out Fristads garments are collected from the customer and are sorted at a recycling centre.
  2. Preparation of material. The material is prepared by being shredded into smaller pieces and turned into fibres.
  3. Making the yarn. The fibres are mixed with other fibres to make yarn, consisting of 15 percent closed-loop content.
  4. Creating new material. The yarn is used to make new fabric.
  5. Making the final product. The fabric is turned into new products, partially made from used workwear.

About Fristads
Fristads has challenged and driven the development of durable and functional workwear since 1925, always with professional workers in mind and with innovation and sustainability as drivers. Our range of clothing includes classic as well as contemporary garments for a wide range of industries and our garments are made to meet the highest standards when it comes to quality, safety and comfort. Fristads is part of Hultafors Group, which is owned by Investment Latour AB and offers a broad portfolio of products and brands catering to professional craftsmen. Read more about Fristads at fristads.com

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