“Designing products for a circular economy”: this theme has been elected by the European Commission to be discussed during a panel session on June 4th at 2.30pm. For its event Green Week 2014, the biggest annual conference on European environment policy at The Egg in Brussels, the European Commission has chosen to fully zoom in on the circular economy, resource efficiency and waste.

One of the most striking examples of industries that needs to make the transition to a circular economy is the work wear market. The work wear market in Europe amounts to 369 million pieces per year, owned by 123 million people. Most of these used garments end up at landfill. The Dutch organization Dutch aWEARness decided to develop a solution for this tremendous amount of textile waste. It has developed the concept for the first circular supply chain; a closed production chain that eliminates the need for new raw materials.

With EcoProFabrics, a pilot project within the European Commission’s Eco Innovation Programme, the company aims to minimize the impact of textile production by introducing Returnity© work wear; garments manufactured from a unique, 100% recyclable polyester-based fibre that is both durable and sustainably developed. Compared to cotton, Returnity® fabrics reduce CO2 impact by 73%, waste management by 100% and water usage by 95%. “EcoProFabrics will show that the old linear model in textiles, where garments are thrown away after use, can be replaced by a circular economic model, where used textiles are shredded into loose fibres then converted into new textiles without any loss in quality delivering the first, 100% Cradle-to-Cradle project in the fashion industry”, said Dutch aWEARness’s founder Rien Otto. Among its launching customers are innovative companies such as Royal HaskoningDHV, Desso and GEA.

The session will be focused on designing products that are suitable for reuse, a concept that the company refers to as “Design for Reincarnation”. It is its mission to design out waste, and smart product design can significantly reduce the impact that the production cycle generates. The session promises to be interactive and dynamic, as Rien Otto will showcase the Returnity® work wear and fashion with the assistance of the European Commission’s trainees. Visitors who are interested in hearing more about eco-effective innovations are also welcome to visit the stand of Dutch aWEARness, which can be found next to the restaurant.