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Rapanui

Our lifelong mission is to make clothing sustainable.

100 billion items of clothing are bought each year, and with 3 out of 5 t-shirts purchased today thrown away within 12 months, a dump truck of clothing is going to landfill every second. When Mart was 5, he was worried about waste. We set out to change that.

Our products are made from natural materials, using renewable energy, and everything we make is designed from the start to be sent back when it is worn out. We make new products from the materials we recover. Instead of making waste, we make new products from it. It’s a circular supply chain.

And in our factory on the Isle of Wight, our t-shirts are produced in real-time, in the seconds after they are ordered. We only make what people actually need, when they need it. The conscientious application of technology has enabled us to demonstrate that there is a different way of operating, and it works.

Recently we’ve been building a platform so that anyone in the world has access to our supply chain and tech. It’s called Teemill, and it’s free.

We’ve had our share of ups and downs. Like when this happened to our factory.

(It wasn’t our fault)

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Rebuilding gave us a chance to totally reimagine the way modern factories work.

Instead of producing in bulk, we took the opportunity to build a new type of production process where orders are produced in real time, one at a time, in the seconds after they are ordered – so there is no waste.

Every product we make is designed to be sent back to us when it is worn out.

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We make new products from the material we recover, and the cycle itself is renewable. Our products can be returned and remade again and again and again. A pure material makes remanufacturing possible, and means products that are softer, and not harmful to the environment.

It’s free to send our products back to us, and we pay the postage in the UK. We’ll recover and remanufacture the material into a new product, and we’ll reward you with a coupon that you can use to save money on your next purchase.

And whilst the technology changed everything for us, we know that sustainability is bigger than just us.

So we share access to the supply chain and the technology that we’ve developed. Anyone can use our systems and tech to start their own brand, build their own store, and connect automatically to our real time production facilities.

We put all this on a platform online, and it’s free to use. It’s called Teemill.

Our tech has allowed us to bring more sustainable clothing to more people.

We’ve worked with some amazing organisations to spread sustainable fashion worldwide.

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And we’ve been able to use our tech to design solutions to new challenges.

We set out to design a jacket without all the plastic. It took 5 years. Some challenges are harder than others.

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We constantly face new challenges as we learn more. But the same values drive us.

Our purpose is to make clothing more sustainable, using the conscientious application of technology and looking for positive solutions across the entire life cycle of a product. Products that are better for the environment and that people love. And we feel like we’re just getting started.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the journey so far.

SUSTAINABILITY

Organic Farming

Organic cotton is better for the producers and the ecosystem in which it is produced. Instead of more toxic pesticides and fertilisers, co planting and insect traps are used along with the special ingredient – cow poo. It encourages biodiversity and leads to the extra soft feel of our products.

Less inputs also means less water, but even organic cotton is still a thirsty crop. So where you grow it matters. The fields that grow the organic cotton for our products are in the North of India, where the monsoons fill reservoirs that supply almost all the water needed.

• Rain water, co planting, insect traps and cow poo
• Certified organic cotton

Processing

Organic cotton looks like a little bit of cotton wool bursting from a dry flower. The petals and seeds need to be removed before it can be spun. Harvested organic cotton is taken to ginning plants by camel or by truck. From there the raw material is separated out into the useful fibres which are sent to be spun. The waste seeds are pressed into cakes which is sold for organic cow feed. Vegetable oil is squeezed out last for use in food products. Every part of the plant is used.

Cotton farmers get a price for their cotton which is guaranteed by the regional government. Great quality batches get higher prices as ginners compete for the best stuff.

• Energy in
• Cow food out

Water clean enough to drink

Wastewater from dyehouse effluent is a major source of pollution in the clothing industry. Where Teemill products are dyed, the water is recovered, cleaned and recirculated. After settling and skimming the water is filtered using reverse osmosis and distillation. This is basically sucking up water through really fine sand over and over, then boiling it.

Salt is added back in so that the dye adheres and all the cruddy mulchy stuff left over is dried out and used for road markings. About 95% of the water is recirculated and recovered.

At the end, the water coming out of the filters and going back round to be reused again is crystal clear, literally clean enough to drink. Once it has been cleaned it is then used at the input for the next batch. It is a closed loop system.

• Recirculated water
• Clean, filtered and reused
• Wastewater is drinkable

Making Products

Our products are made in a factory where the spinning, dye, weaving, cut and sew are integrated. Vertical integration leads to cost savings which can be reinvested in the facilities. This means that the environment is clean, light, modern and positive, like the Teemill factory in the UK.

Our reputation for consistent quality is a large part down to 21st century manufacturing principles at this stage and the fact that people and product don’t travel along a complex supply chain.

That also makes it easier to ensure compliance, and this factory is audited for a wide range of social and sustainability criteria. The plant is powered by renewable energy.

• SA8000 Certified (Social Accountability audit)
• GOTS certified
• Renewable Energy power

Renewable Energy

Throughout our supply chain renewable energy is used. In the UK Teemill own a solar farm and power manufacturing operations with renewables. In India, the factory owns two wind farms and a 150kw PV array. Renewable energy is affordable, reliable and something we are committed to using.

Within the factory machine-to-machine communications technology allows Teemill to dynamically turn equipment on and off only when it is needed, balancing our manufacturing demand with on site generation.

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Real-time printing

We develop technology at their factory to improve all aspects of t-shirt printing. This includes working on lower impact inks, software, machinery and automation technologies. It enables us to make products in real time. At the factory, products are only made after they have been ordered – there is no waste.

The efficiency and productivity gains from tech balances the cost of more sustainable materials. Tech is how all this is made affordable.

• High-tech, low waste
• Certified organic cotton
• Open access technology

Packaging

By 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. This is bad. Instead of plastic packaging, we use a rip and splash-proof mailer bag made out of paper. Big orders come in cardboard boxes, with paper-based tape.

• Funky paper wrapping
• Recycled material stickers
• Plastic free packaging

Our Circular Economy

Every year 100 billion new items of clothing are produced while a truck full of clothing is burned, or buried in a landfill every second. Slowing fast fashion down a bit won’t fix it. But when we take the waste material at the end, and make new products from it at the start, it changes everything. That’s what we’ve done.

Our products and packaging produced by Teemill are made from natural materials, not plastics. Every product is designed to be sent back to Teemill when it is worn out.

Teemill makes new products from the material they recover, and the cycle itself is renewable. Our products can be returned and remade again and again and again.

A pure material makes remanufacturing possible, and means products that are softer, and harmless to the environment.

• Products designed to be remade again
• No plastic, just organic cotton
• We remake new products from material

What next?

More sustainable supply chains are only possible when conscientious shoppers buy the products they want to see in the world.

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