Sportswear that goes further – for you, for people, for the planet

Rob Webbon - CEO

Rob Webbon
CEO

We are producing sportswear that goes the extra mile - sustainable cycling, running and triathlon clothing that is better for people and planet.

In 2014 we set out to make sportswear better; at the time sustainability was barely a consideration for the wider industry.  Consumers are now waking up to the impacts of the clothing industry and as a result there are many products now on the market made from sustainable fabrics.  The industry has made a start in reducing its impact but the simple fact remains that we’ve developed a take-make-waste culture where we dig billions of tonnes of resources out of the planet each year and the vast majority of it is wasted at end of life.

The clothing industry is one of the most damaging on the planet accounting for approximately 8% of global emissions, huge water and energy use, significant environmental pollution and manifold social injustices.

Fast fashion is particularly damaging, increasing the environmental impact through a shorter life, lower quality and faster deterioration.

The UK is one of the largest producers of textile waste in Europe, with Britons throwing away over 3kg of textiles per person annually – over 200,000 tonnes. Each year, less than 1% is truly recycled, and over half (1.7kg per person) ends up in landfill

Ellen MacArthur Foundation - Circular Fibres Initiative - 2015 Material Flow

Ellen MacArthur Foundation Circular Fibres Initiative (2015 Material Flow)

What are Presca doing about it? 

We have made a commitment to create the world’s first circular sportswear range this year, with all of our new garments to be fully circular by 2022.   That means we’re going back to the drawing board with every single garment, to maximise performance and function, whilst redesigning for longevity and ultimately recyclability.

Recycling our clothes

Presca material circularity stages

Our sportswear garments are made from polyester and nylon-based fabrics, which are manufactured from recycled materials - things like plastic bottles and fishing nets.

These are 'polymers' – long, repeating chains of molecules bonded together. To recycle our old shirts, we break down these molecular bonds to return the material back to its building blocks – known as monomer. From here we can start the process again to make brand new garments out of our old garments.

Circularity - Graphic showing the process of circular in clothing

Our long term aim is to be able to complete the entire process from old back into new within the UK.

The golden bullet?

Textile recycling is an excellent way of preserving resources and cutting down on the amount of waste going to landfill, but it’s not a standalone solution to the ills of the clothing industry.  Just ask Jack Johnson

Reduce: By its very nature clothing manufacture will always have some impact.  The most important thing that we need to do is reduce consumption - buy well buy once.  Not everyone has a pile of cash burning a hole in their pockets but if you buy the best quality you can afford it is bound to last longer than the cheapest.    We design for longevity to ensure that if you invest your hard-earned cash in a Presca product you will see years of enjoyment from it

Reuse: Use your clothing till it falls apart, then repair it and go again.  Or if you really get tired of it before the clothing gets tired then take it to your local charity shop.   We’re currently investigating setup of a repair facility for our garments.

Recycle: This should be the last port of call, when your clothing has given all it’s got.  The innovative recycling technique described above uses approximately 70% of the energy of making virgin polyester (which is more than the energy used to recycle plastic bottles into clothing), but crucially it “closes the loop” on the clothing industry and means we can make new clothes out of old ones, with very little resource input.

The only alternative is to downcycle the clothes into rags for, e.g. mopping up spills in the automotive industry, to “thermally recycle” it (i.e. burn it) or put it into landfill.  We know which option we prefer …

We’ll continue to work with our recycling partner to look at how we can further reduce the energy embodied in the new garments we make from these recycled clothes.

In the meantime our next blog will cover our efforts to measure the impact of each of our garments and look at how we can further reduce and finally offset this impact.