New Cotton Project Introducing: REvolve Waste

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The New Cotton Project is a world first with twelve pioneering players coming together to demonstrate an entirely circular model for commercial garment production.

This week we meet Traci Kinden from REvolve Waste and talk to her about her involvement in the project.

Please give an overview of your company and job role.

REvolve specializes in mapping textile resources, matching waste to recycling technologies, and developing circular materials flows. We deliver data, insights, and connections to increase reuse, recycling, and transparency within the textile industry.

Today, we work with companies, non-profits and consortia to create data, knowledge, and networks that effectively cycle textile resources over and over again.

I started REvolve in 2013. I set the company’s direction and lead our work.

What is your participation in the New Cotton Project?

Our role in the project is to work with the partners to define input material specifications and estimate the availability of these feedstocks in Europe.

What challenges and pitfalls do you think will arise in the New Cotton project?

Post-consumer recycling feedstocks are still really tricky to source consistently at the right spec, quantity, and price. A lot of work both within and beyond the New Cotton Project is trying to address this, but it’s not an issue that will be resolved tomorrow.

Where do you see the greatest opportunities in collaboration?

Generally, collaboration helps to align stakeholders and apply more resources to challenges too massive for one or two actors to handle.

In this project, we bring together strong innovators and industry leaders from strategic geographies with experienced research partners to co-develop circular textile solutions. We are not starting from scratch but building on the success of the past years and working within an industry who is ready to change. The timing has never been better, and the quality of this team is high. Between now and the end of this project we will see advances in recycling technology, development of feedstock pre-processing and supply capabilities, and a better understanding of how to put recycled product in the market. That’s the power of collaboration. That’s awesome.

Where do you see the future of circularity in the fashion and textiles industry?

I hope we figure out how to put the right products and access options in front of the right types of people. 

For example, someone who is buying a lot of cheap stuff on a regular basis in order to look cool in the moment has different needs and motivations than someone who only bothers to shop when their tees and socks get too many holes in them. 

What will work for the fast-fashionista and the not-naked-is-good-enough personas are different. What they wear is different. What they care about is different. How they shop is different. A truly circular textile and fashion industry will:

  • Operate from a common understanding of what is always a bad idea (complex fiber blends, excessive elastane usage, toxic chemistry, poor labor practices, etc).
  • Create the right kinds of products for different types of users (fashion items built for a lot of reuse, readily recyclable core products, workwear that can be easily disassembled, etc)
  • Offer products to users in a way that works for them 
  • Use economic (dis)incentives to bolster best practices and reduce waste to the absolute minimum
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