Millions of tonnes of textile waste are sent to landfill every year. Only a small percentage is recycled into new products – many of which are of lower value than those from which they were made. Businesses are keen to make better use of waste, both to address this challenge and to capitalise on the opportunities offered by consumers seeking more sustainable fashion.
Two of Future Fashion Factory’s members are helping to drive the shift to a circular economy with an exciting new deal. Camira Group has taken a majority stake in textile recycling business iinouiio, enabling the businesses to work together to install a new wool recycling line to develop recycled fashion and textile products.
As a founding partner of Future Fashion Factory, Camira has continued with its commitment to driving innovation in fashion and textiles with the aim of creating a more competitive and sustainable industry in the UK.
Alan Williams, Camira’s CEO, is also an Advisory Board member of the Leeds Institute of Textiles and Colour (LITAC), a new collaborative research institute at the University of Leeds working to tackle global challenges across the industry.
In collaboration with the University of Huddersfield, Camira Fabrics led a Future Fashion Factory-funded R&D project to develop a natural alternative to the flame-retardant finishes currently used on fabrics made of wool.
Acquiring a stake in iinouiio now creates new opportunities for circular solutions with the addition of new recycling and reprocessing machinery.
“We’re genuinely excited about this fantastic opportunity, which not only builds on the sustainability reputation of Camira, but will position us as a market leader in textile circularity,” said Anthony Croall, Commercial Director at Camira.
“Market demands for less waste and eco-conscious consumers have now put textile recycling at the top of the agenda, so we can’t wait to get working with John to develop the iinouiio brand alongside new environmental products and initiatives from Camira.”
A labour of love for its founder John Parkinson, iinouiio was established in 2019 and joined Future Fashion Factory when it launched a year later. It builds on the experience gained over John’s lengthy career, initially working with his dad as part of the family business and then with his textile recycling company Evergreen in Batley Carr, West Yorkshire.
In the mid-1990s John developed a new career as a teacher until a quarter of a century later, he realised the UK was in a perfect position to redevelop its capacity for recycling old into new textiles.
Last year Future Fashion Factory commissioned designers Jennifer Koch and Lee Hurst, both graduates of the Royal College of Art (RCA), to create unique garments from iinouiio’s recycled fabrics and yarns. The knitted sweater and woven jacket were presented to manufacturers and brands at a dedicated workshop hosted by RCA’s Dr Dawn Ellams in March 2021, demonstrating the potential of iinouiio’s approach to maximise the value of waste animal fibres.
“The fit with Camira is perfect for iinouiio: two like-minded companies who share a passion for textiles and sustainability who together can take textile circularity to another level,” says John. “The installation of the new recycling line will be a milestone for the UK textile industry and iinouiio are thrilled that it will be located within the Camira Yarns facility in Huddersfield.”
John retains part-ownership in iinouiio and will continue to lead the business from its new premises at Camira Yarns in Birkby. There iinouiio will set up a new textile reprocessing line converting high-value raw materials, including textile manufacturing waste and pre-loved wool and cashmere garments, into fibres which can be re-spun into new yarns and fabrics.
The reprocessing machinery is being supported by a £165,000 grant from Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP), which works on diverse projects aimed at achieving a circular economy and keeping resources out of landfill. WRAP is a member of Future Fashion Factory and leads the Textiles 2030 initiative, to which the Universities of Leeds and Huddersfield are both signatories.
Ultimately, the facility will produce iinouiio’s own branded products while enabling takeback schemes for both manufacturers and retailers and opening up new opportunities for Camira in developing its own recycled products: all paving the way for a more circular and sustainable fashion and textile industry.
“I knew within a minute of John contacting me for support that this project was critical to the future of Camira and the whole of the UK textile industry,” adds Alan Williams, Camira CEO. “We’re delighted to be involved!”