Photo: Hanna Brunlöf Windell

Innovative collaboration for circular textile purchases for Way Out West

As part of its sustainability efforts, the Way Out West music festival has in recent years been exploring ways to reduce the climate impact of textiles at the festival. Wargön Innovation works daily to find innovative solutions to reduce the environmental and climate footprint of the textile industry, including finding new and efficient ways for garments to be used as many times as possible. Wargön Innovation and Luger, the organizer behind Way Out West, have in connection with this year's festival investigated the possibilities of replacing newly produced t-shirts with more resource-efficient alternatives, thereby taking further steps forward in terms of sustainability in the event industry.

Since 2007, Way Out West has worked hard to become a sustainable festival. Conscious choices have been made to take steps forward in sustainability every year. In recent years, the focus has been on reducing the climate impact of textiles at the festival. This year, the aim has been to investigate the possibilities and complexities of the purchasing process of reused t-shirts for the festival's 1,500 officials.

- Wargön Innovation's focus in this work has been to identify the obstacles to transition in a concrete case such as Way Out West to more clearly identify what is needed for a company to be able to implement circular textile purchases, says Caroline Düberg Martinsson, innovation leader at Wargön Innovation.

One avenue tested in the spring was to explore the possibility of collecting T-shirts that had already been used but were at risk of being discarded.

Clear requirements are key to successful reuse

In order to meet the demand and Luger's requirement specification, several parties in the Wargön Innovation network have joined forces to find solutions together. One party in the collaboration has been the Red Cross. Every year, about 200 tons of textiles from seven of the Red Cross circles are sorted in Wargön Innovation's textile sorting. From the material that cannot be resold in Red Cross stores, black t-shirts have been sorted out for further inspection and possible reconditioning. Elis Textilservice has also contributed with discarded black t-shirts from its operations.

A general request for cooperation was sent out to companies, asking for t-shirts that for some reason could not be sold. The request resulted in proposals from companies that, instead of just sourcing t-shirts, offered services linked to the use of officials' shirts to create a circular and long-term solution. In the end, the choice fell on Dvala rent & reprint, a start-up company in Vänersborg whose business idea is to rent out and reprint clothes for the event industry.

- For me, it is a fantastic opportunity to work with one of the largest players in events Sweden today. Together we can drive a sustainable transition in the event industry, which is the core of Dvala's business concept. Way Out West has always been a brave event organizer that has shown the way and that is exactly what we need now, more brave players in both the textile and event industry. Yes, in all industries to tackle the challenges we face when we change," says Victoria Fagerlind, founder of Dvala rent & reprint.

Victoria Fagerlund, Founder Dvala rent & reprint

Kimmie Winroth is the project manager for Way Out West at Luger and the initiator of the work to find a sustainable solution for the festival's officials' shirts.

- The important thing for us when it comes to sustainability work is long-term solutions. We want to find ways to implement more climate-friendly ways of working that ultimately actually streamline and improve festival infrastructure and operations. This in turn creates an economic benefit in choosing sustainability - and it is these solutions that will make the biggest difference in our industry. So when Victoria got in touch, it was an easy choice. She understood how our industry works, the challenges we face and has developed a holistic solution that was even better than new construction in every way. We are extremely happy about this collaboration and of course grateful that Victoria has developed this initiative and the company, says Kimmie.

Shifting focus from purchase to supply

There are several challenges in using second hand t-shirts for the volunteers at Way Out West. In order for visitors to easily see who is working at the festival, it is important that all t-shirts look uniform and signal that you are part of the festival's team of officials. This means a tight specification, which has made it challenging to find t-shirts that match the requirements. Another challenge is finding the right sizes. Some sizes are harder to find second-hand and in sufficient quantities. To solve these challenges, some of the officials' shirts this year will come from deadstock from a Swedish supplier, that is, newly produced products that for various reasons can no longer be sold.

Looking for second-hand t-shirts is a time-consuming and costly process as there is currently no functioning value chain for commercial and large-scale second-hand sourcing. To avoid having to go through the same process next year, Luger has chosen to switch to a generic print that can be reused year after year. Dvala rent & reprint has now been tasked with collecting, reconditioning and storing the officials' shirts after the festival so that they can be reused next year as well.

Through the collaboration with Dvala rent & reprint, next year Luger will not need to buy newly produced t-shirts for the festival, but will instead buy a service where they will have access to t-shirts year after year. By using textiles as a service, the use of the textile product can increase. Every time a newly produced product is replaced with a reused one, there is potential for reduced environmental and climate impact. Figures show that around 80% of a garment's climate impact occurs in the production phase.

Switching to circular services instead of buying products is a step towards reducing the climate impact of the textile industry. The work with Luger to test scalable solutions for the event industry is taking place within the framework of Region Västra Götaland's challenge "Circular design and new business". An initiative with the goal of future-proofing West Swedish companies in the transition to circular business models through expertise, methods and analysis tools.

- This has been a learning experience for all involved. We have gained a better understanding of the needs and opportunities of the different actors, and see how important it is to work towards a solution that is not only sustainable, but also businesslike and flexible. We also see that the need for support via Wargön Innovation's test and demo facility and via the circular business coaching have been important keys in the work, concludes Caroline Düberg Martinsson.

The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund, Region Västra Götaland, Vänersborg Municipality and Fyrbodal Municipal Association, and has been carried out in collaboration with the Red Cross, Gothenburg City Mission, Elis Textilservice, Textile Movement and RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.