Re4circular: a new AI-based solution to improve the sorting and cataloguing of textile waste

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Atelier Riforma is an innovative startup with a social dimension. It seeks to reduce the environmental impact of the textile and fashion industry by adopting circular economy principles.

So far, the startup has focused on upcycling: collecting and refurbishing used clothes, then reselling them online (it was the first online shop in Italy dedicated to upcycling). Atelier Riforma's network across Italy includes tailors, designers, artisans, fashion schools and social tailoring projects, where disadvantaged people can find a job.

The startup is now changing its business model to focus on technology, in order to apply this circular model on a larger scale. They are developing the first AI-based technology that automates the cataloguing, sorting and digitisation of textile waste, together with a B2B platform that connects the players in the textile waste collection sector with those in circular fashion. The technology will be called Re4Circular and will make it possible to direct each used item of clothing to the most suitable circular destination (reuse, recycling or upcycling). By 2025, separate collection of textile waste will be mandatory throughout the EU and this technology could support the circular transition of the fashion industry.

The founders have a dream of creating a system in which no item of clothing is thrown away - instead, it will be part of a never-ending loop. Now that's circular!

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  • The new AI-based technology will reduce both the quantity of used clothes that end up in landfills and the demand for natural resources for the production of clothes. After all, it takes 2 700 litres of water to make a cotton t-shirt and the textile industry used 79 billion m3 of water in 2015. Textile purchases in the EU in 2017 generated about 654 kg of CO2 emissions per person and the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions.
  • Re4Circular aims to digitise the post-consumer clothing supply chain and make it more efficient, steering as many items as possible towards circular uses.
  • The startup aims to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry and to promote its transition towards a circular model by 2025.