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From idea to reality: Large-scale investment to change the textile and fashion industry

From idea to reality: Large-scale investment to change the textile and fashion industry

Better design from the outset, repair, reuse, and recycle – fourteen partners from across the community are coming together to test a new textile ecosystem. Science Park Borås at the University of Borås leads the project with the aim of Sweden’s becoming a role model in meeting the EU’s requirements for a more sustainable textile and fashion industry.

A garment that is used for a short time and then thrown away and burned means a huge waste of natural resources as well as pollution of the environment in the countries where the garments were manufactured. In order for the textile and fashion industry to become more sustainable, it is necessary for clothing and textiles to be used for longer and for the material to have an efficient purpose when the textiles are taken out of use. After an earlier preliminary study where ideas were developed together with a large number of partners from the private, public, and non-profit sectors, it is now time for work.

“In the coming years, together with the industry, we will test a number of initiatives in practice, a complete system that will benefit the whole of Sweden, where the advantage is that we have thought about the whole together,” said Susanne Nejderås, Textile Strategist at Science Park Borås and project manager for the investment.

Some initiatives being tested are (a selection):

  • New methods for household collection of textiles
  • A national facility for the pre-sorting of textiles is to be built in Södertälje, Sweden
  • Methodology for material sorting for recycling to be further developed
  • Several brands will produce new collections based on used garments
  • Customers will be offered to purchase upgraded garments
  • Increased traceability and transparency in the value chain to know where and how the garment has been produced so that consumers and the aftermarket can make more informed choices

Brands that reach many

The brands Kappahl, Lindex, Gina Tricot, Nudie Jeans Co, Eton Shirts, and Björkåfrihet are included in the project. Sandra Roos, director of sustainability at Kappahl, highlights the role of brands in the transition because together they reach many people and meet people with very different interests and knowledge about sustainability and fashion.

“In concrete terms, we will develop a circular offer to our customers in collaboration with the other actors in the project. It will be about increasing the value of garments that are not currently salable on the Swedish market sufficiently so that they become attractive to a new user. It is a way of creating value from existing garments, as a complement to the linear model of only creating value by manufacturing new garments,” said Sandra Roos.

Pre-sorting – a missing piece of the puzzle

What is unique about the investment is precisely that the entire textile value chain is included, from design and production to collection, sorting, reuse and recycling. A national facility for pre-sorting is an example of an important piece of the puzzle that was previously missing and that meets the need when the municipalities in January 2025 are given responsibility for collecting textiles separately from other household waste. Another important piece of the puzzle is to ensure the most sustainable handling possible through the entire value chain.

“We will build a full-scale facility where we pre-sort collected textiles before they are sent to fine sorting facilities. What we should sort out is what obviously cannot be reused, i.e. rubbish and things that are broken. The biggest profit will accrue to future generations with less environmental and climate impact,” said Vesa Hiltula, CEO of Telge Återvinning AB, which will stand as a national precedent for this part of the textile value chain.

Easier to do things right

In the long term, the project aims for textile products to last longer, to reduce the use of natural resources and waste, to make products and production safer and to increase recycling in Sweden in accordance with the EU’s textile strategy.

“The goal is for clothes to be able to be repaired, upgraded, or used as new raw material for new garments, at least three times before they are finally sorted out and fiber recycled,” said Susanne Nejderås.

“For the individual consumer, it will be easier to do the right thing through the right information in the garments and because they will have more and better alternatives to throwing garments in the garbage. The ambition is for companies to be able to do more sustainable business and for Sweden as a whole this means that we will continue to be far ahead in research and innovation. It contributes to jobs, influence and strengthened competitiveness,” concluded Susanne Nejderås.


Kappahl, Lindex, Gina Tricot, Eton Shirts, Nudie Jeans Co, Björkåfrihet, Borås Energy and Environment, Eskilstuna Energy and Environment, University of Borås, Science Park Borås, the Swedish School of Textiles, RISE, Sysav, Södra Skogsägarna,Telge Recycling, and Wargön Innovation participate in the project System Demonstrator for a Sustainable Textile System. The project runs until 2026 and is financed by Vinnova.

Text: Lina Färm
Photo: Adobe Firefly/Mattias Björlevik

Read more about the Systemdemonstrator project for a sustainable textile system here