Plymouth based Project Plan B director Tim Cross has long been a spokesperson on sustainable textiles solutions for the workwear and PPE markets. With the environmental crisis caused by COVID-19, he is now urging designers and product developers to think about products’ end of working life, with the motto ‘protect others, protect the planet’.
“Nearly 90 per cent of UK workwear already ends up in landfill or incinerated every year. COVID-19 has exacerbated that problem. Disposable PPE is adding to the industry wide problem of mass manufacture and waste, which is why we created the first fully recyclable face mask, made from recycled plastic currently being marketed by 1TCA. We completely understand that during a time of crisis we have to act quickly to protect lives. However, it is surely incumbent upon us as designers and product developers to think about the products’ end of working life,” Cross said in a press release by the company.
“We want to be the catalyst for positive change in the textile industry and hope that other companies will follow to provide 100 per cent recycled ranges. Everyone has the potential to make positive change, and we are keen to share what we have learnt to help others achieve the same. We will keep pushing boundaries, innovating and sharing knowledge to achieve the positive change we believe the textile industry is capable of,” he added.
The Project Plan B journey started by providing a manufacturing solution to less flexible, larger corporations; pulling together resources and expertise from across the globe to deliver bespoke garments. They started by looking at using recycled fabrics, but quickly realised that this was not going to be enough if the garment just ends up in landfill after use. The project needed to address not only the use of non-renewable resources in producing fabric, but the longevity of garment life, and the disposal at end of life.
All Project Plan B garments are made from 100 per cent recycled materials. Every garment is designed to be recycled and each garment can be 100 per cent recycled by Project Plan B. Project Plan B began working with fabric mills to develop a recycled yarn that could be recycled again without a loss in value. They then ensured that this yarn would have all the properties required for commercial success; a super soft hand feel, wicking capabilities and the ability to take an anti-bacterial treatment. It was imperative to set about designing garments to be recycled. Designing with the end of life in mind from the beginning allows problems to be solved before they are created.
Drawing on their research and resources, Project Plan B created solutions which led to the first samples of 100 per cent recycled polyester polo shirts. Each garment carries the Project Plan B mark identifying them as designed to be recycled using their quality recycled threads. These garments can then be recycled back into a high- grade raw material suitable for carding, spinning and knitting or weaving into the fabric of new garments.
In this way, Project Plan B created a unique closed loop circular system through which materials can be used again and again whilst maintaining purity and value.