The Boer Group: Conquering the mounting pressure from recyclable textiles

Creating value from low-grade textiles by discovering new markets, partners and innovations

case study

The Challenge

The Boer Group is a leading, international, textile recycling organisation with sorting and collecting companies across the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. They collect and sort used textiles to prepare them for a second life and work with businesses that recycle textiles in sustainable and diverse ways.


At present, 7 sorting businesses are active within the Boer Group and together, they sort 450,000 kg. of textiles daily. The business of sorting is a matter of balance; the profitable re-wearables subsidise the unprofitable non re-wearables or recyclables.

“What do we mean with circular? Short answer is keeping the raw materials that go into our textiles into continual circulation” – Cyndi Rhoades, Founder and CEO of Worn Again

However, the advent of fast fashion has heralded a new era of waste; high volume, low quality clothing floods the market and the delicate balance has now been dangerously tipped. There is mounting pressure to find new avenues for those clothes that cannot be sold as re-wearables and The Boer Group has set out to create value from these low-grade textiles by discovering new markets, partners and innovations that will solve this post-consumer challenge.

The Approach

During the signature event of our Circle Textiles Programme, Beyond Green, organised by Circle Economy and the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, The Boer Group was brave enough to put their real-life zero waste challenge on the table. Together with experts and ambitious AMFI students, they knuckled down and combined their brainpower in an intense 2.5 hour circular fashion hackathon.

“Especially with AMFI students if you connect with them, they are the starting point of our business. They produce the clothes that we have to recycle, they should be educated on how their design decisions impact the recycling of the clothing” – Elisa Bes, Communications & Relations at The Boer Group

To address the growing number of non-recyclable textiles, the group identified the need for customer awareness and better systems to dispose of garments once they have reached their end-of-life. They recognised governmental regulations and incentives as key initiatives that should be put in place, next to large-scale, industry collaboration and the involvement of cities, municipalities, brands and retailers.  


This visual was created by Circle Economy’s visual designer Kay van ‘t Hof. Click the case studies below to see the visuals and read the results from the other three Beyond Green hackathon challenges.

As a part of our community of changemakers, The Boer Group shares in our ambition to make the circular economy a reality.
Are you a changemaker? Join us at Beyond Green 2017.

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