Specialty Fabrics Review May 2019 - 34

UPCYCLING

L

THE NBA

ooptworks, a Portland, Ore., company that takes excess materials
and transforms them into new products, turned a few heads when it
announced it was working with Delta Airlines to turn 350,000 pounds
of retired employee uniforms into a special collection of new products.
But another Looptworks project also shows just how creative the concept
of "upcycling" can be-it is also repurposing thousands of jerseys from the
National Basketball Association.
"Anytime an NBA player gets traded or retired, there are jerseys left over
that have their name and number on them," says Scott Hamlin, Looptworks
founding partner and CEO. "They can no longer commercialize them or use
them on the court."
The NBA started a pilot program with Looptworks when the company's
local team, the Portland Trailblazers, traded four of its players. "At the
beginning of the process it was about 250 jerseys, but once they'd gone
through their equipment manager and retail operations and warehousing,
it increased to more than 4,000 jerseys, just from those four players."
Looptworks and a local partner deconstructed the jerseys and made
backpacks, waistpacks and pillows, still bearing the name of the team,
which went on sale at retail outlets and the Looptworks' website.
When the backpacks were offered at the Trailblazers' arena, the team's
vice president of social responsibility, Christa Stout, told the Portland
Business Journal, "That is so Portland; I'm pretty sure no other team is
doing a featured product like that."
She was correct then, but not now. "The NBA came back to us and said
this is great, we'd like you to do it with all the teams," says Hamlin. Now,
Looptworks sells items from each of the 30 NBA franchises, from the
Atlanta Hawks to the Washington Wizards.

Looptworks has
repurposed thousands of
jerseys from the National
Basketball Association
into products such as
waistpacks.
Photos: Looptworks.

34 REVIEW MAY 2019

IN-THE-LOOP UPCYCLING
"I came out of the athletic and outdoor
industry and saw the waste that was
produced in the process of manufacturing
textiles for outdoor apparel. I thought,
'There has to be a better way,'" says Scott
Hamlin, who turned that thought into
Looptworks, a Portland, Ore., company
that takes excess materials and transforms
them into new products. Hamlin is a
founding partner of the company and
serves as its CEO.
Hamlin says he saw an industry that
had 15-30 percent of its materials left over
after manufacturing: "They were selling
it off to third world countries for pennies
on the kilo, which was wiping out local
industries in different parts of the world,
putting it into landfills or incinerators, or
sending it back into the factories where it
would come back out as falsified goods.
"None of those were good solid
options," says Hamlin.
So Looptworks started by intercepting
pre-consumer excess that was left over at
the factory level and turning it into new
products, says Hamlin, a process now
known as "upcycling." From there, the
company has gone on to partner with large
brands including the National Basketball
Association (see sidebar on the left) and
Delta Airlines, as well as athletic companies,
to handle other facets of their waste stream,
including post-consumer materials.
"We were ahead of the market when we
started talking about upcycling," explains
Hamlin. "Most people thought we were
talking about riding a bicycle up a hill! The
concept was pretty nascent. The market
has caught up a little bit, at least on an
industry level, where people are more
familiar with what that means."
Today, Looptworks has an active
market in the products produced through
upcycling, including apparel, backpacks,
handbags and totes, with reverse supply
chains for deconstruction, sorting
and manufacturing.



Specialty Fabrics Review May 2019

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