Hannes Bengs from Pure Waste (Photo by Mikko Rapila)
The producer of TRE X Flow products, Pure Waste, is a globally significant operator as a pioneer of recycling. Its clothes and accessories are made of recycled materials only, and their goal is to make the recycling of textiles a common practice.
Did you know that only less than 1 % of the earth's water resources are drinkable? 70 % of this is used in cultivation, and for example 11,000 liters (equivalent of 52 bathtubs full of water) are required in producing one kilogram of cotton. In addition, harmful pollutants are released into the soil and air.
To produce the amount of cotton used annually, 2.6 % of the earth's surface is needed. With the same area, over 200 million people could be fed. The possibilities to grow both ordinary and organic cotton are diminishing quickly, which has evoked several large clothing companies to speak about textile recycling.
"It is a proven fact that we have no capacity to cultivate cotton anymore. Large companies want to increase their production, hence they need more raw material and at the moment the only alternative is to make it from waste," Hannes Bengs, Founder-Partner of Pure Waste, says.
Pure Waste was founded in 2013 when Hannes Bengs, Anders Bengs and Lauri Köngäs, the owners of Costo which produces accessories from recycled materials, could not find 100 % recycled material for their needs. So they set out to produce it themselves. Jukka Pesola and Maela Mandelli came in the project, too. Both excess material from clothing industry and the fabrics of Pure Waste are used in Costo's accessories.
Pure Waste has made globally significant work in producing fabrics and clothes from 100 % recycled materials. The focus has been on cotton as it is the most used but least recycled material and its cultivation requires water enormously. The material used by Pure Waste is textile waste from factories.
"We give a longer life to fibers when we make them into new fabric," says Hannes Bengs.
According to Bengs, part of the textile waste from factories is so poor right from the start that it can't be used in producing new fabric. There is demand for textile waste, however, as it is mixed in small amounts in the production of new fabrics, as well as used in pillow and duvet filling, oil absorbent mats and car industry.
The amount of textile waste is huge
One could think that the solution is to prefer products made of organic cotton. Of course, organic cotton is a better alternative than ordinary cotton but it is pointless if products are thrown away after a few uses.
Every year 11 million tons of textiles are thrown away. In garment production, i.e. in spinning yarn, weaving and cutting cloth, three million tons of cotton is wasted. This is as much as 15 % of all grown cotton. With this amount, every human being on the earth would get three T-shirts.
"Whether it is organic or not, one should invest in quality. If we make good-quality and long-lasting clothes, people would wear them longer. You would not have to buy clothes so often and you would not have to produce them so much," says Bengs.
Many companies are not interested in the huge amount of wasted natural resources and textile waste. Companies want to make as much profit as possible, increasing the production of clothes with deteriorating quality.
"Today, low-grade products are made from poor raw materials, to cut down the consumer price. With cheap prices, the customers don't want to pay more. It's all the same to them if the shirt lasts for one week or two," Bengs states.
Responsible factory operating in India
The signature collection of Pure Waste consists of simple and timeless basic garments, such as T-shirts and sweatshirts. In addition, it also manufactures products and fabrics to other companies. The production takes place in India, in the factory of the brand's Indian partner Raj Agrawal. Pure Waste aims to own the factory completely or partly in the future.
The factory invests in the wellness of the employees. There is for example a cantina where the workers can make and eat their own lunches, and accommodation for people coming from farther off. The owners of Pure Waste visit the factory four to five times a year. The production is in India as in Finland or Europe there are no resources for it.
"The waste we need comes from clothing factories. The waste is crushed mechanically into cotton wool and spun into yarn, fabric is woven from it and clothes sewn from the fabric. All these stages of manufacture should be found in Finland so that this could be made here," says Bengs.
Pure Waste gets textile waste from local manufacturers. The waste is sorted by color and quality, and the color of the waste defines the color of the product. Depending on the use of fabric and to ensure the quality, chemically recycled polyester or viscose fiber is added.
In pattern making Pure Waste aims to minimize cutting waste, and recycles the rest. Fabrics are not dyed nor any new raw materials are used so they save water and chemicals substantially. Before sewing fabrics are washed which is the only phase in Pure Waste's production that requires water. Washing is done with recycled water, meaning that the same purified water circulates several times in the factory.
The future goal of Pure Waste is to make textile recycling a common practice and bring added value to fabrics and clothes in using recycled material.
"We have often compared ourselves to Gore-Tex, that it is a good example to us, what we want to be in the future. Meaning that when the consumer sees the Pure Waste text in a garment, he or she knows it is made of 100 % recycled raw materials," tells Bengs.
The T-shirts, sweatshirts, hoodies and canvas bags of the TRE X Flow collection are made by Pure Waste. The products have been made in India and printed both in India and Finland. You can buy them with a good conscience as they are made of 100 % recycled materials. No new cotton has been grown for them and 2,700 liters of water were saved when making one T-shirt. Due to the use of recycled material, even a part of the three million tons of cotton, otherwise wasted in clothing manufacturing, has got a new life as a new piece of clothing. Read from here hints to more responsible consuming of clothes.
Text: Vilma Heimonen
Photos: Pure Waste