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Fabraa‘s sustainable journey starts with recycled raw materials

Sustainable alternative without compromising
Tilburg-based fabric supplier Textaafoam launched a sustainable brand last year. Furniture fabrics with a conscience, made from recycled materials. The Fabraa brand takes its first steps by offering fabrics with a smaller ecological footprint. The brand operates under a clear vision. Sustainability does not have to be achieved at the expense of the creative process. Fabraa fabrics can also be combined to form a commercial concept where the products enhance each other. This makes it easier to choose sustainable fabrics. Sustainability without compromising on the price/quality ratio, available colours, look or feel of a fabric.

True change requires a critical mass
Fabraa was born out of the need to contribute towards a more sustainable furniture industry. This starts with a good range of fabrics, but it goes further than that, states Mark van der Aa, Director of Textaafoam and Fabraa: “We want the theme of sustainability to be higher on the agenda among our customers and business relations. As a family business, we take a long-term view of continuity. For us, there is no conceivable future in which we do not work more sustainably than we do now – awareness and regulations are ensuring this. Because our fabrics are part of an end product, we want to know how we can contribute to our customers’ goals. We actively seek out innovations and work with our suppliers to continuously improve overall sustainability for people and the environment.

We are on a journey that we have only just begun. We know that we cannot change the world alone and nor do we want to. By creating a support base and working with others, we are constantly gaining knowledge, gathering insights and information, and learning more every day so that we can constantly improve sustainability. That’s why we are currently focusing on the yarns and why we aim to use fully recycled materials as the basis for our fabrics from 2025 onwards.”

As business people, we are also pragmatic. That’s why we offer fabrics that are accessible to everyone with an ideal balance between price, quality and sustainability. We believe that true change requires big numbers. You can see this in the water we save, for example. By using recycled PET bottles as raw material, we used 7,822,172 litres less water. That’s enough for the entire population of Maastricht to take a shower (120,341 showers lasting an average of 9 minutes)!

Understanding the impact of our fabrics
Working pragmatically requires making conscious choices. That’s why we measure the effects of the choices we make. We do this by measuring our footprint using a Life Cycle Analysis (LCA). This footprint shows the ecological effect of fabrics on the planet. With this registered LCA and various internationally recognised certificates, such as GRS, RAL Silver from DGM and Oeko-Tex Standard 100, the fabrics have a concrete and demonstrable foundation in sustainability.

We started with an analysis of regular upholstery fabric. In doing so, we looked at the entire supply chain. This showed that the production of yarn has the biggest impact on our footprint. Making yarn production more sustainable was therefore the logical starting point. We give used materials and waste a second life as soft and strong upholstery fabrics.

Step-by-step progress
Mark van der Aa: “We started with one raw material: RPET bottles. In the meantime, we have created a complete range using different raw materials. These include yarns made from discarded consumer clothing as well as from industrial waste, such as face masks and nappies. The composition is still sometimes mixed with new raw materials, but is increasingly 100% recycled.

But our journey doesn’t end there. These are just the first steps. We want to make a contribution by offering an excellent alternative to conventionally produced fabrics. The LCA offers plenty of opportunities for the future. In terms of production processes and conditions, but also in transport, packaging or waste flows. As a knowledge partner in the chain, Fabraa is able to continue exploring the road to circular products without losing sight of the ideal balance between accessibility and sustainability. This spring we will present our first Annual Report. This provides insight into where we stand and what steps we are taking towards a circular future.”

Transparent and trustworthy
Mark van der Aa: “We believe it is important to be transparent about the impact of our fabrics. That’s why every sample has a label indicating its impact on the environment. This label now states the savings in CO2 emissions, energy and water consumption resulting from the use of recycled raw materials instead of new raw materials. It also clearly states the percentage of recycled material used in the fabric. We calculate these savings ourselves using software from recognised specialists in Life Cycle Analysis. This makes us transparent in what we do. In order to prove their trustworthiness, we have our fabrics certified,” Van der Aa continues. All fabrics in the Fabraa collection have been certified by Control Union according to the Global Recycled Standard (GRS). This standard checks whether the composition of the fabric actually consists of recycled materials. They check the process from source to finished product every year. That is why we like to display the GRS logo on our samples.

In addition to this product-specific information, we also offer a variety of marketing services. This enables us to support customers in explaining the total concept to retailers and consumers. This helps us to support those who already have a clear vision on sustainability, as well as those who are taking their first steps towards a more sustainable future.

Our final destination
The end point of our sustainable journey is still unknown. New insights are constantly emerging that improve our understanding of sustainability. Our horizon is now ‘furniture fabrics that are in balance with their environment from raw material (cradle) to end of life cycle (grave)’. We have started with cradle to grave, which means that we have complete control of the chain from supply, production and logistics to the doors of Fabraa. From 2023 onwards, cradle to grave will follow the same path and continue with the route to retailers, clients and consumers. Complete reuse, i.e. cradle to cradle, is ultimately an important goal, but at the moment it is not feasible due to all the additives that are required to fulfil requirements and wishes in terms of colour depth, processability, light resistance and so on. Mark van der Aa: “The path we are taking is not the easiest, but it is necessary for a well-founded, long-term sustainability story. It has to be completely right. We are refining the colouring and finishing of the fabrics to get even closer to our goals. A pilot project using sustainable transport is also underway. That takes a lot of time, but achieving the highest possible quality in everything we do always takes precedence over the short-term and over speed. That’s also why we are proud of every step – no matter how small – that we and our business relations take on the road to a more sustainable furniture industry.”

Take a look at article from Interior Business Online