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Jorge Mataix (Belda Lloréns): "The Circular Economy: A Differentiator and the Driving Force Behind the Reindustrialization of the Textile Industry"

By Partner


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Credits: ECOLIFE / Belda Lloréns

The integration of the circular economy into the textile industry transcends a mere trend. It's an urgent necessity and a gateway for innovation and differentiation. Jorge Mataix, partner and relative of Francisco Mataix, Managing Director of Belda Lloréns, understands this profoundly. Ever since establishing its ingredient brand, ECOLIFE, six years ago, the multinational company, based in Alicante, has been pioneering sustainability in spinning. It has led the way in Europe in utilizing sustainable materials and has conducted all its production in Spain. To further endorse the circular economy, ECOLIFE is introducing a new product this year: E-Circle.

Jorge Mataix Credits: ECOLIFE / Belda Lloréns

What is the current status of European textiles in the circular economy?

Europe's focus is currently on digitalization and the circular economy, with the textile sector, a major contributor to CO2 emissions, playing a pivotal role. At Belda Lloréns, especially in Spain, we're at the forefront, with a history spanning over 40 years in sustainable material usage. Our next objective is to implement and advance the circular economy, striving to enhance sustainability in the textile industry.

What does European legislation state about the circular economy?

Regulations are being drafted at both the European and Spanish levels, aiming to hold clothing manufacturers accountable for the entire lifecycle of their products, from raw material usage to design. This is a significant consideration at the European level, as these regulations are set to be implemented from 2025.

However, there's a lack of sufficiently advanced technology to dispose of all these garments and post-consumption waste, with over 80% currently ending up in landfills or incinerators. Consequently, only about 25% is recycled. The regulations and urgency exist; what's missing now is a mechanical or chemical solution to address this issue.

Credits: ECOLIFE / Belda Lloréns

How does Belda Lloréns promote the circular economy?

Belda Lloréns is actualizing the circular economy by transforming used garments into textile fibers for incorporation into new yarns and fabrics. This approach aligns with the two principal methods of the circular economy: mechanical and chemical.

We favor the mechanical method for its cleaner, more sustainable nature, but we also utilize post-consumer fibers chemically processed by manufacturers. This process involves decontaminating old garments by removing zippers, buttons, and other accessories. These are then transported to companies like RB Fibres and Recuperados LLacer, where we obtain multi-colored post-consumer fibers. By blending them with other sustainable fibers, we produce yarns, fabrics, and consequently, new garments containing a percentage of the multi-colored remnants from the used clothing.

Credits: ECOLIFE / Belda Lloréns

What innovations and products do you offer?

At Belda Lloréns, we've developed "E-Circle," a product that amalgamates multi-colored post-consumer materials like BCI (Better Cotton Initiative) cotton and recycled polyester from textiles, not bottles. This method significantly reduces water and CO2 usage. We aim to introduce a range of 6 to 7 colors for garment, fashion, or home textile companies. Our distinctive approach is to produce yarns without added dyes, as the color originates from the multi-colored post-consumer item itself.

The use of post-consumer fibers in reusing open-end yarns is limited to a certain percentage in new yarns. This new product, E-Circle, is certified by BCome, a platform that informs and certifies us on the environmental impacts in terms of CO2, water, and energy, both regarding consumption and savings compared to similar new materials. We are committed to being part of a solution for managing post-use waste.

Credits: ECOLIFE / Belda Lloréns

In addition to E-Circle, focused on multi-colored post-consumer products, our color range includes E-Denim, targeting post-consumer denim.

E-Denim already existed but will now be incorporated into this new charter focused on the circular economy. This allows us to offer a standard in-stock product so people can integrate multi-colored post-consumer products or embark on a B2B circular economy project.

We have clients focusing on workwear, such as FRISTADS, CHAUDDEVANT, DIBELLA, with whom we collaborate at the circular economy level. These clients are predominantly in Northern Europe, where consumer awareness exceeds that of the South.

In Spain, for example, we collaborate with companies like Mayoral. We conduct certain B2B projects in the circular economy: "Post-Consumer in Stock Service" using this multicolored concept with our yarns.

Credits: ECOLIFE / Belda Lloréns

What role do you see for textile companies, consumers, and public administrations?

Transitioning to a circular economy necessitates a collective effort from companies, consumers, and public administrations. Businesses must offer sustainable and circular products, as we do. At Belda Lloréns, we are equipped to educate consumers with our products, complete with certifications, traceability, and environmental impacts, all identifiable through a QR code. We collaborate with BCome, which employs the prestigious methodology of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation to certify the traceability and environmental impacts of our yarns and, consequently, the fabric and the final garment.

Moreover, consumers must be informed and willing to support goods promoting the circular economy and sustainability. Raising awareness among consumers through education in schools and universities is vital.

Credits: ECOLIFE / Belda Lloréns

Lastly, public administrations should advocate for policies and education on sustainable consumption. Another avenue for reindustrializing the sector is for public administrations to encourage legislation that mandates the recycling and reprocessing of public administration textile products, such as uniforms for the army, firefighters, hospitals, and police, through the circular economy. The concept of purchasing locally sourced garments containing a portion of their own waste could significantly contribute to job creation and revitalization of the national and European textile industry.

Another method to encourage circular economy practices in textiles is to classify textile products based on their environmental impact, from A to D (with D having the least and A the most environmental impact), similar to current practices with food or washing machines assessing energy consumption. This would be an invaluable tool for consumers selecting products based on CO2 emissions or water consumption.

I am confident we will exert every effort to instigate change. In Spain, 20% of luxury textile consumers overpay for items like handbags or jackets. Achieving the same percentage with a sustainable consumer would indeed make sense.

Visit the webpage of

ECOLIFE / Belda Lloréns.

Belda Llorens