The NovIKrog Project

Textile Circulation

The journey of clothes is one of the most complex systems, which was created as a result of a huge amount of discarded but still usable clothes, humanitarian purposes, opportunities to make money and attempts to reduce textile waste.

Despite the fact that a huge number of stakeholders are involved in the life path of a piece of clothing, most of the garments are still discarded in landfills or Roma for incineration. The biggest cause of this is the deteriorating quality of clothing. In the project, we tried to find new opportunities to reduce the negative impact of the fashion industry on the environment.

The production and consumption of textile products, like other goods, is increasing every year. The textile industry ranks among the top 5 polluters of the environment. In the EU alone, around 5.8 million textiles are wasted annually, amounting to just over 11 kg per capita. As with other waste, the quantities of textile waste are increasing. In 2022, the European Commission issued an EU Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles. It sets out planned measures that are of the utmost importance for relaunching the textile industry in Europe, taking into account the reduction in the consumption of natural resources and waste. They focus in particular on promoting repair, reuse and recycling and the creation of sustainable textile materials. Thus, we can expect more impetus from the European Union in these areas in the future. All Member States will also have to ensure separate collection of textiles from households by 2025, as stated in European Parliament Directive 2018/851.

Collected clothes are deteriorating in quality

Knof notices that the clothes collected in reuse boutiques are of inferior quality every year - both workmanship and materials. They also noticed that by donating low-quality clothing, people actually "washed their conscience" and thus gained an excuse to buy even more low-quality fast fashion clothes.

For collected textiles that are not suitable for immediate reuse, they are therefore looking for different solutions. In 2023, they launched the KNOFcycle project, a smart system for collecting quality second-hand clothing. The KNOFcycle system enables separate collection of quality clothing at home. The KNOFcycle box is ordered at the online store. After receiving it, users fill it with quality clothing. The courier then picks up the box at their home. Received clothing is inspected and evaluated according to KNOF central warehouse according to their quality standards. If the clothes match their standards, users are reimbursed the cost of ordering a box, and users can also be rewarded for donating quality and exceptional clothing.

Within 4 months of the launch of the project, they acquired the first 50 test users who ordered the KNOFcycle box. During this time, they received back 16 boxes, collected 591 clothes through them, of which 33 pieces of clothing (5.5%) were intended for processing: Most of the clothes went for reuse in their stores, so they managed to increase the share of collected reusable clothing from 52.32% to 94.5%.

Waste textiles as basic material for flat products

Quality textiles are therefore decreasing in the circuit. Newer materials are not long-lasting, they are quickly subject to wear and damage for which repairs are impossible. Despite careful categorization, repair, renovation and creative upgrading, more and more textiles collected for reuse still land in landfill.

In recent years, Knof has therefore begun intensive possibilities for processing these materials for other purposes. They began to develop new semi-finished products, in which the largest possible share of textile waste would be used. These products should have a long service life and usability.

So far, Knof has tested mixing minced textiles with various organic binders, synthetic binder and plastic waste. They produced smaller samples of new materials that are stable, interesting in appearance, pleasant to the touch, but for further development testing of mechanical and chemical properties is required.

Citizens today have different options when wondering where to go with clothes they no longer need. If they themselves can no longer repair them, process them into new useful products (cleaning cloths) or donate them to relatives, they can be donated to humanitarian organizations, reuse boutiques, taken to a textile container. If the clothes are of high quality, we recommend that they try selling on one of the online channels for selling second-hand clothing (marketplace, flea ...) or order the KNOFcycle service, which rewards the donation of quality clothing with a reward of up to 100 EUR per box.

We do the most for the environment if we primarily choose quality clothes, the so-called slow-fashion, and there are also more and more fashion enthusiasts who buy exclusively used (outer) clothes.

Using donating our old clothes "for humanitarian purposes" as an excuse to buy new, cheap clothes that we'll want to get rid of again in a year or two doesn't mean our shopping habits are sustainable. Therefore, when buying, let us think as comprehensively as possible and not let ourselves be seduced by the green misleading of various multinationals and crazy discounts. The best purchase is the one that is not.


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