<< back to Insights

Fashion – Enter Wales: SMARTCymru Give The Green Light for our Wool & Textile Recycling Project


Fantastic news from Fashion-Enter Ltd (FEL) Wales, the FEL team have forged a relationship with Potter Group, the largest private waste management company in Wales. Together they have developed a Feasibility Study into the creation of a closed loop textile recycling system that will produce novelle fibres for use in the production of new types of wool-blend yarns for manufacturing woven cloths for fashion apparel. After 18-months in planning and development SMARTCymru have given the green light to further research and create this novel yarn with the Welsh Government.

These wool blend yarns are targeted so as to combine the traditional sustainable Welsh wool industry with modern sustainable recovered fibres to create both local sustainability and circular economy benefits through the entire supply chain.

The study will research and qualify the technical requirements, characteristics and commercial potential for the novel fibres and yarns, both as products in themselves and with a view to quantifying the positive impact this could have on domestic supply chains, the reduction of clothing going to landfill, and CO2 emission.

Potter Group is a third-generation family-run business, founded in 1948. Potter Group has grown to become the largest private waste management company in Wales, operating successful resource management, equestrian, property and renewable energy divisions.

The Group works in close partnership with several county councils throughout Wales and England and are proud to be an active member of the local community, investing in community projects, historic restorations and environmental initiatives which benefit the local area.

As landlord for Fashion-Enter Ltd (FEL) Wales, Potter Group has an excellent relationship with FEL and can supply waste industry expertise, industrial processing, logistics and supply chain experience, and is therefore well placed to be a collaborating partner for this recycling project.

Every year global emissions from textile production are equivalent to 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2, a figure that outweighs the carbon footprint of international flights and shipping combined. The project aims to contribute to the reduction of CO2 emissions by creating low-embodied energy fibres and yarns and provide what consumers want in sustainability and ethical fashion. Recycling of clothes and upcycling of clothes is a major growth area.

Additionally wool prices have fallen from 77p/kg in 2014 down to a predicted 27p/kg in 2020 for the Welsh mountain fleece (Source: British Wool Marketing Board) which is a reflection of global market trends rather than internal or UK price fluctuations. Brexit is predicted to result in a further 5% reduction in overall UK sheep populations as the uncertainty with future export trade halts positive progress across all sectors. The project aims to create a new market for local wool producers and processors.  

The project seeks to develop a product that combines recycled fibres with virgin wool to create a sustainable product that uses recycled materials, and supports the Welsh wool industry, the original sustainable fibre. This will focus on the development of a yarn, however, at the same time research into the development of a non-woven fabric will also be carried out. A yarn is suitable for existing Welsh producers and artisans.

If the feasibility study and resulting conclusions are successful it is expected to grow and populate an industry for spinning the final yarn and weaving of the new yarn into textiles. The final cloth product will have a sustainable USP to support the final garment industry. This in turn will create employment advantages for Mid-Wales as well as supporting the Welsh wool farmers and distributors. 

Eddie Bebb, Commercial Manager at FEL Wales said: “SMARTCymru have reviewed our novel fibre, yarn and cloth ecosystem proposal. They have given us the green light to proceed with the feasibility phase and will give financial support when key milestones are achieved.

“The work is to be done as a collaborative R&D Project in conjunction with local waste disposal company Potter Group. Both parties will have a kick off meeting with the appointed SMARTCymru case worker this Friday (18th February 2022).”

Fashion-Enter CEO Jenny Holloway comments: “When I was 19 I was a sponsored graduate by Rolls Royce Motors and worked for a year in Shrewsbury. My landlady was Jean Balmer. Today Jean is one of my most trusted friends and she is a shepherdess working her own farm. In 2020, when we opened FEL Wales, I stayed frequently with Jean and was appalled to see fleeces rotting and being disposed of. This is wool – one of the best staple yarns that the UK has! The more I delved into the situation the more horrified I was so we at FEL requested a small amount of funding with SMART to research into how we can use these wool fleeces by cleaning, scouring, grading sorting, carding, spinning, weaving and finishing but with recycled filaments. Surely we can find a way forward here. Delighted to be working with Potters who are ahead of their time in waste management. This is one exciting project for sustainable fabrics for the future.”

The development of this project is brilliant news for FEL Wales, the local industry and the development of sustainability in the fashion and textiles sector. Further updates on this project will be revealed in due course.

Funding for the SMARTCymru project is provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

<< back to Insights