Big step for circular fashion

Amsterdam will soon be the home to its first fully circular textile factory. Brightfiber Textiles plans to launch a facility in 2023 that will turn old clothes into high-quality fibres and yarns, from which new clothing can be made.

The factory will have the capacity to produce about 2.5-3 million kilos of raw materials from waste textiles each year – that’s almost the weight of textiles collected in recycling containers in Amsterdam during the same period.

Brightfiber is run by Ellen Mensink. She began Amsterdam company Brightloops five years ago, which sells clothing made from discarded sweaters under the Loop.a.Life brand. Mensink said: “We know from experience which sorting flows lead to high-quality raw materials, beautiful yarns and end products." The Brightfiber factory will bring this to an industrial scale, working with Wormeveer-based Wieland Textiles and its Fibersort machine that will sort and shred clothing into sustainable yarns of different colours and textures.

At the moment, less than 1% of all brand collections consist of recycled material. And 25% of recycled clothing is made largely from PET bottles, rather than old clothes. Brightfiber's factory has the potential to save thousands of litres of water per item, as well as eliminating the need for polluting chemicals and dyes. Local production also reduces transport-related CO2 emissions. 

The factory fits within the Netherlands' ambition to be a frontrunner in circular textiles, and has been part-financed by the Circular Economy department of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management.

Amsterdam’s sustainable fashion pioneers

The Amsterdam Area is home to several textile producers and fashion houses committed to decarbonising the clothing industry. Companies such as BYBORRE help designers create sustainable fabrics, while designers like Duran Lantink creates his designs after trawling the city when its residents leave things out on the street for others to take. Meanwhile, Fashion for Good, a museum and startup accelerator, is dedicated to scaling solutions for decarbonising the fashion industry worldwide. And Amsterdam’s globally renowned denim industry is increasingly setting the standard for sustainable denim production and lifecycle.

Read more business news from Amsterdam or more about the sustainable fashion sector.