Javier Goyeneche looked at what people no longer used and saw something beautiful. The company he founded in 2012, Ecoalf takes plastic bottles from the sea, nylon from old fishnets, discarded carpets and fabric scraps, second-hand cotton and wool yarns, used tyres, coffee grounds and turns them into textiles.
“It takes about 70 to 90 plastic bottles to create one metre of polyester yarn and about one year before a new model is put on the market,” says Carolina Alvarez-Ossorio, communications director of Ecoalf, which has recycled 200 million plastic bottles and helped recover 80 tonnes of fishing nets so far.
In less than a decade, Ecoalf products are in 1 000 stores all over the world and the company has its own stores in Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, Berlin, Amsterdam and Tokyo. The company has partnerships with Desigual, Apple and Swatch. In Swatch flagship stores employees wear corporate uniforms made out of 40,807 plastic bottles and recycled cotton. In 2019 recycled cotton collections saved about 38 million litres water.
Ecoalf secured an EU-guaranteed loan from Triodos Bank, made possible by the European Investment Fund and backed by the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the financial pillar of the the EU’s Investment Plan for Europe.
The company works only with low impact, organic cotton and organic fibres. “Low-impact cotton needs less water – it takes more than 2 000 litres to create a T shirt – and is respectful of local vegetation, soil and workers,” says Alvarez.
In October 2019, the company launched its first yoga collection with groundbreaking recycled materials such as Q-Nova®, an eco-friendly sort of nylon obtained from regenerated raw material, recycled polyester and tencel ™, a super soft, low-impact fabric.
T-shirts, leggings and tops are produced in Portugal and are seamless, meaning that the company uses the exact amount of material to ensure that fabric waste is minimised.