Closed loop recycled clothing traceability certification

Doing more with less resources

Fristads’ ambition is a clean and green planet by reducing the use of raw materials and reusing materials as much as possible. In June this year, Fristads obtained the QA-CER certificate level 2. This is a quality system for the use of recycled materials in Fristads articles. This makes Fristads the first company clothing producer in the Benelux that can guarantee the traceability of the recycled raw materials.

Fristads has obtained this certificate because of the successful project ‘Closing the loop’. “As a company clothing manufacturer, we are intrinsically motivated to prevent value destruction,” says Product Specialist Heleen Westerhoff. “We want to close the circle in clothing production. Thanks to a collaboration with PostNL, we started collecting used polo shirts from the customer in 2020. We send these to a recycling company, which ensures fiberization and mixing with organic cotton and recycled polyester. Recycled polyester in combination with BCI cotton provides stability and a long-lasting, strong quality. This cloth is further processed by European partners to make new polo shirts. Partners with whom we have built a healthy and solid relationship and who meet the standards of our Code of Conduct.”


Closing The Loop

With the innovative concept of ‘Closing the loop’, collected, used clothing from Fristads takes on the same function in new Fristads clothing. Of the clothing we collect that can be used for ‘Closing the loop’, 100% is recycled, of which 15% is added to new articles. “That may not seem like much, but the high quality requirements of Fristads are still guaranteed,” says Heleen. “It is a technical challenge and a difficult process in the textile industry and there is always a part that cannot be used as closed loop content. Moreover, we want to be part of the solution, not the problem. The biggest difference we make with ‘Closing the loop’ is that we do more with fewer raw materials. We reduce waste, CO2 emissions and water consumption and make less claims on raw materials. Sometimes the journey is just as interesting as the final destination.”


Quality and burden of proof

The innovative working method has recently been tested under relevant conditions in order to achieve the desired quality. This process was successful and recorded in a quality report by a certified party. But it didn’t stop there. Heleen: “After all, we wanted to provide evidence for a correct assessment of our recycling process. After an extensive search we ended up at BQA (Belgian Quality Association). An international and independent certification system that guarantees the quality management system of the recycling process and use of recycled materials. The process has been recorded in a neutral manner and made traceable.” By obtaining the QA-CER level 2 certification, Fristads proves that a control system has been introduced to safeguard the closed loop recycled content. “The main thing is that we never compromise on Fristads’ high quality requirements, we substantiate this with test reports from an independent third party”.


Step towards the future

Heleen is convinced that this certification is an important step towards the future for Fristads. “We can create value for our customers and partners in the chain and strengthen our position in the market when it comes to circular solutions. With this certificate we are happy to convince customers who strive for sustainable solutions that we are the right partner. Arriva Netherlands has now also joined as a customer. Together we work towards an environmentally conscious and sustainable economy. Whatever sustainability goal the customer has, it is not only about the end goal for us, the journey towards it is at least as interesting!”