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Closing the loop on waste with remade textiles

The Warehouse Group took on the massive challenge of textile waste at XLabs.

TWG explored how a closed loop system with reverse logistics and new partnerships has the potential to renew the life cycles of products across their apparel and manchester ranges. Ultimately – unlocking the full value of each with potential products made from the yarn of recycled textiles.

CBD methods:
Closed Loop Systems
Smart Materials
Waste reduction

The Team:
Yi You, Angela Lewis, Grace Cribb,
Maria Antunovich, Jason Tolley

The Challenge ­–

Here in New Zealand, we discard 15.5 million tonnes of waste each year, that’s 3,200 kg for each of us. One of the fastest-growing causes of this waste is the clothes we buy, wear, and then discard.

An astounding 75% of textiles manufactured each year is sent to landfill by consumers, with the balance being lost in the form of production waste, along with a small percentage being donated and unfortunately less than 1% being regenerated into new fiber. It’s time to make a change. A change that pushes us, challenges us and inspires us. A change that realises the value in what we already have, before we throw it away. 

The Warehouse Group is  committed to leading that change, to be here for good as New Zealand’s most sustainable retail company. With annual sales of more than 40 million units across their apparel and manchester ranges, the challenge they  brought to XLabs was - 

How might we maximise the life of textile items for customers, whilst reducing waste to landfill at the end of each product’s lifecycle?’

XLabs resource on closed loop systems lying on grass with cellphone
The Warehouse Group staff sitting around table with other XLabs participants in background

The Journey ­–

Their XLabs team came from various departments and brands across their business, but they were all connected by the values they share and their passion for the environment.

They came to XLabs to learn, design, and build circular economy principles into their business model, alongside continuing to improve our customer experience. They saw this as a huge opportunity to help drive change and our transition to a more regenerative, circular economy.

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The Solution ­–

The solution they came up with at XLabs was the opportunity to close the loop on textile waste. With over 240 retail stores, The Warehouse Group has the physical footprint that can potentially provide a convenient and cost-effective model of recovering unwanted fabric products and redistributing revitalised fabric products.

The circular system they designed at XLabs could maximise the value of each product across a continuous lifecycle, and eliminate the need for unnecessary virgin material instead recovery and remaking.

“Our research shows that when customers learn about what we’re doing for our communities and environment, 77% feel better about shopping with us, and 42% want to shop with us more. Imagine what our customers will think when we tell them we’re going circular – that we can take their unwanted fabrics, turn them into desirable new products, create economical benefits and at the same time, significantly ease the burden on our planet.”

Zoom meeting showcasing TWG presenting their solution for closing the loop on textile waste in NZ
TWG team members standing in front of XLabs photo wall

The Ambition ­–

They came up with a bold ambition as a team at XLabs - to help repurpose 80% of our textile waste by 2040.

“It has been brilliant to be part of XLabs – to see the passion and drive that exists for changing how we work and how we think about the impact on the planet. We have been inspired.”