Sourcing for fashion production in Berlin

We are interessted in circular textile production processes and using „waste“ as ressources for something new. In urban spaces, like our home town Berlin, we see are lot of interessting sourcing opportunities for the production of clothes and shoes. Cities are main driver of consumption. They produce enormous amounts of waste and pollution ( What if, we use that waste and transform it into something good. To source and produce locally seems to be a good starting point to create a possitive impact. Sustainable production comes with the usage of natural materials or recycling of materials. By recycling plastic waste and other waste, resources can be conserved.  Let’s do a thought experiment and think about waste streams in urban spaces, which could be a sourcing opportunity for textile production. Think about plastic bottles, alt paper, coffee grounds, organ gene shells, dogs hair or used textiles.


In 2019, 6.28 million tonnes of plastic waste were generated in Germany, mostly due to private housholds. By law, the recycling rate for plastic packaging should be 63% in 2022. Germany is the biggest exporteur of plastic waste in Europe. We could start to think about taking responsibility and try to make something good with that. Of course, the best way would be, to engage in zero waste initiatives and adapt our byuing behaviour. We will always consume something. For exemple unifi (REPREVE Polyester & Nylon) is using post-consumer plastic waste for the production of recycled nylon and polyester, which could be used in textile production.


14.8 million tones alt paper were collected in Germany in 2019. The waste paper return rate lies by 78%, which is quite good. But the generale consumption of paper is rising in the last years. The per capita consumption of paper, cardboard and carton is higher in Germany than in any other G20 country. The rapidly increasing quantities of packaging in online trade in particular contribute to the high consumption. Paper has a fairly high energy consumption during production. The best way is to reduce our paper usage. When it comes to textile production, we could recycle alt-paper into cellulosic based fiber yarns, like Ioncell from Helsinki is doing.


According to the Association for Textile Recycling, the amount of old textiles collected in Germany is about 750,000 tonnes. 50 per cent of the collected textiles can be reused. These textiles are usually exported.  Another four per cent are further processed into cleaning rags or other recycled products (e.g. sound insulation mats). On the other hand, according to the Federal Association of Consumer Organisations, 1.6 million tonnes of textiles are consumed each year. This corresponds to a per capita consumption of 20 kg.  This means that the Germans have the highest consumption of textiles worldwide. There are different companies working at transorming post-comsumer textile waste into new ones. Evrnu for exemples uses post-consumer cotton garments to produce cellulosic based NuCycl fibres. And Ioncell could do so either. Aquafil (Econyl) uses post-consumer textile waste, to produce nylon 6 fibres. Kleiderly from Berlin transforms old textiles in plastic hangers.


In Berlin there are lots of coffee houses which serve fresh brew coffee and also fresh made organe juice. It is possible to use the coffee ground for the production of S.Café (Singtex) nylon or the organge shells could be used to produce a vegan leather or silk alterative.


It is possible to use combed-out undercoat of dogs as wool alternativ in textile production. In Germany, 80 tonnes of dog wool, a high-quality raw material, are thrown away every year. Berlin has many dogs. Modusintarsia creates Chiengora, a dog hair based wool fibre.


Germany produces so much waste plastic, paper, used textiles. Before thinking to re-use that waste, we have to think about our consumption habits. First and foremost, our consumption should be mindful. Less consumption, less waste. That should have the greatest effects and is inevitable.

When we look at the type of waste streams in Berlin, we clearly see, that there are enourmous potential to use these waste streams from plastic, alt-paper, used clothes, biobased waste like coffee grounds or organge shells and dog hair as sourcing chance for textile production in urban spaces. In the further areas of berlin corn, hemp, flax sheep wool could be natural sourcing alternatives to. Of course, we would need the appropriate factories in the city. Berlin has the know how and a vital chemical industry as well as recyling facilities to do so.


photo by Jonas Tebbe/unsplash

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