Circular economy or alternative economy models to maximize the use of resources are an up-and-coming trend as, today, consumers and brands are aware of environmental impacts and concerned about the increasingly polluted world we live in.
Before, recycling referred to reuse of plastic waste or developing waste into eco-friendly products. Unfortunately, these circular economy ideas were not put into much practice by the textile industry. Rather they were adopted only for recycling used plastic bottles into other products. But what if, today, we could turn our used clothes into new outfits that can help heal the world?
Jirarot Pojanavaraphan, Managing Director of Saeng Charoen Grand Co., Ltd. (SC GRAND) textile recycling company and founder of VT Thai Group Co., Ltd., “VT THAI” platform, the online hub of Thai handcraft with social impact, said that, “Circular economy or circular fashion can be adapted to our businesses in ways that help the global economy survive.”
“SC GRAND has had expertise in zero waste and closed-loop systems for a long time. We have been operating a textile waste or recycling factory for over 50 years. Since my grandparents time we’ve been recycling and upcycling all kinds of pre-consumer and post-consumer textile waste from spinning, weaving, cutting and cutting, turning all waste generated into new valuable items in the textile industry.”
Having been accredited by OEKO-TEX Standard 100 from Switzerland and GRS (Global Recycled Standard) from USA, the Company has recently created businesslike global-friendly branding during Jirot’s management, with a vision to become a leading company in textile-recycling with concern for environmental impacts and recycling of resources, waste or leftovers, and becoming part of the campaign of promoting the world’s sustainable and eco-friendly businesses.
“Saeng Charoen Grand” was named after his grandfather and the name means “bright future”. Jirarot is the third generation successor. After rebranding to SC GRAND, he said, “SC also stands for ‘Sustainable Cloth’, reflecting the directions that the business is heading in.”
Jirarot took study tours to view the overseas textile market and is committed to making a difference together. With its long history dating back over a century, SC GRAND continues growing and focusing on environmental impacts and its customers now include several world-class fashion brands.
The textile industry was ranked 2nd after the oil industry as causing the most pollution around the world and creating global warming. Jirarot said that to produce a T-shirt takes over 2,000 liters of water and a lot of chemicals. Most importantly, we must grow cotton, dye fabric and create virgin fibres which must use a lot of water and fertilizer and leave a lot of carbon footprints which cause global warming.
But it would be reversed, if a T-shirt would be wholly produced from recycled raw materials. He was determined to make “SC GRAND Textile Recycling” logo symbolizing the Circular System, sustainability, zero waste, close the loop for the fashion industry. When customers bought fibre, yarn or fabric from SC GRAND, they would receive the standard that the logo guarantees.
When a customer bought a T-shirt with this logo, it means that component of wastes from the textile industry such as fabric leftovers, remnants of cloth from sewing factories and g thread residue from weaving factories will be used by SC GRAND as raw materials in colour separation and 100% recycling without the dyeing process, to promote the sustainability of the world.
“People have become more aware and conscious of the environmental issues and want to buy eco-friendly and sustainable products which may be a bit more expensive than regular products but have a positive impact on the planet. Moreover, within the next five years, world-class brands such as Nike and Adidas will use 100% sustainable raw materials such as recycled, organic cotton and others. We want to create a brand to be a part of this sustainable fashion industry and we aim to become a top-3 recycling brand in ASEAN markets.”
For “VT THAI ” platform, positioning itself as Thai handcraft with social impact or online market for Thai handcraft lovers for two years is based on the belief that handicraft products can go further with good designs and marketing.
Examples of practical success can be found on American, British and French platforms such as Etsy, Folksy and The Little Market which sell handicraft products worth $100 million -$1,000 million every year. VT THAI website arose from the fact that Jirarot frequently travelled to remote areas in Thailand and eye-witnessed local handcrafts available on sidewalks nationwide where each piece sells below its true value compared to real cost and background story. Plus the pieces require handcraft skills enhanced with the classic elegance that is appreciated by foreign customers. If they could create channels for distribution to world markets, villagers would have higher incomes and better quality of life and it would help preserve and maintain Thai ways of life and local wisdom. Most importantly, it would create sustainable livelihood in their respective villages.
Regarding the 5-years roadmap of VT THAI, when Jirarot saw opportunities, he tested the market in the first year by presenting Thai handcrafts on online marketing websites and in tourism outlets where he saw possibilities for Thai handcraft products. In the second year, he developed a website VTThai.com participated in by approximately 200 villagers presenting over 1,000 types of handcraft products, mostly weaving products and woven fabrics.
“This year was the third anniversary of VT THAI and we planned to raise funds and announce a Cloud Handicraft Factory. Customers that are fashion brands and furniture brands and others looking for Thai-style traditional or modern handicrafts may come to us. We are working closely with local craft communities under fair trade practices as they produce products with their expertise. We help them with QC, presentation of products, delivery, customer contacts, business communication, finance and other areas, because we aim to do sustainable business – not greedy business”.