Since May 2021, ETP’s first pilot customer (ABN AMRO) has been closing down many of its office locations. Therefore, the pilot - in its original formulation - was put on hold. However, during this time the brand collected all the old garments from the previous collection. All of these garments were sorted and recycled by ETP’s new partner Gaia, a company specialised in return logistics and recycling of products. Half of the resultant fibre was used to make recycled socks for ABN AMRO and yarns for seating in the automotive industry. The other half is currently being stockpiled in order to see if they can be transformed into furniture for the bank's new head office.
To date, one of ETP's main challenges has been the lack of investment from their customers in circular solutions. Customers usually expect that circular solutions should be in place and available to them at no extra cost. The brand reports that the pending EPR regulation is already helping to shift this mindset. There are more and more requests on end-of-life solutions and new customers even provide a separate budget for these services from the start of the project. This is encouraging, and ETP feel well positioned to support this growing demand. Since the pilot launch, the brand has secured seven customers, who wish to start their circular business model solutions. Operating at this kind of scale will allow the logistics behind the take-back model to be more efficient.
ETP will revive its pilot plans in January 2023, when it will distribute take-back boxes to all ABN AMRO offices. The boxes will remain there until they are filled and ready to be collected, after which they will go through ETP’s circular programme. ETP plans to take a product-specific approach - ie. certain products will be sorted for re-use of the yarns (e.g. polo shirts & jeans) and others will be sorted for recycling. The brand has already confirmed that Gaia will process the next batch of recyclable grade products into new polo shirts for ABN AMRO, and are exploring recycled sweaters made from jeans too. Gaia will measure and track the impact of this first pilot, in terms of volumes processed, and energy, water and CO2 saved. ETP hopes that reporting on these impact indicators will allow them to improve how they communicate the value of their circular business model to potential new clients.
”Go after the figures and collect as much data as possible - this will help you tell your story and show your value to customers,” says Nancy Dingshoff, Project Manager at ETP.