The first circular economy work wear garments developed as a result of the EcoProFabrics initiative are set to be used by key European businesses later this month at a special event for the first EcoProFabrics customers, hosted by Royal HaskoningDHV.

The event marks a significant milestone in the three-year project which aims to introduce 30,000 garments across nine customers in five EU countries by 2017. The launching customers will test and evaluate the quality of the products in a pilot scheme before a full range is launched in the market.

The event will also bring together the project’s sounding board – which includes EU and national government representatives, academics, sustainability experts, producers and textile end-users – for the first time to encourage feedback on product and circular economy improvements.

Launched during Amsterdam Fashion Week 2014, EcoProFabrics is the first circular economy initiative to be developed for the textile industry. The initiative aims to introduce a collection of work wear products into the market that are manufactured using Returnity®, a 100% recyclable, reusable fibre. Compared to cotton, Returnity® fabrics reduce CO2 impact by 73%, waste management by 100% and water usage by 95%.

“EcoProFabrics has given us the perfect opportunity to build, test and operate a Circular Economy in a live context. This means we have already been able to identify, understand and resolve at an early stage the practical issues likely to emerge on a larger scale”, commented EcoProFabrics’ project manager, Edward Pfeiffer. He continued, “We now have valuable, practical chain management insights which can directly support clients interested in embracing new Circular Economy opportunities”.

The nine launching customers include: Ahoud Schilders, Auping, BAM Ferrovial Kier, Brabant Water, Desso, Dutch Ministry of Defence, GEA, Pizza Rossa, Rijkswaterstaat, Royal HaskoningDHV, and Volkswagen. The first pilot scheme will be introduced in November 2014 with Desso and plans are currently underway to introduce garments in the UK during 2015.

Developed by sustainable fashion company Dutch aWEARness, EcoProFabrics is managed by Royal HaskoningDHV with both companies leading the design and implementation of the project’s circular economy structure.

As a collaborative venture between six of Europe’s most forward thinking organisations in the field (Backhausen, Bukk Fashion Support, EcoChain©, Dutch aWEARness, Royal HaskoningDHV and Van Schoot Pompcentrum), EcoProFabrics is also representative of the emerging circular economy within the technical textiles (workwear) industry. According to a European Textile Service Association (ETSA) workwear group report*, this industry alone is forecast to generate annual revenues in excess of €5 billion across Europe by 2015.

* ETSA Workwear Group Report 2009 – Structural Changes in the Workwear Market: Chances and Challenges for Textile Service Companies