Worn Again Technologies has a unique trail-blazing heritage. It was founded in East London in 2005 by Cyndi Rhoades under the name Worn Again, with sights set on transitioning the textile industry from the current linear model. Before becoming the leader in polymer recycling technology it is today, its beginnings were in ‘upcycling’.
The initial launch years were supported in a partnership with Terra Plana, the former footwear company led by Galahad Clark, a 7th generation cobbler from the Clark’s shoe family. The quest of the business was to turn disused textiles into new and desirable trainers and handbags from the likes of prison blankets, scrap leather, decommissioned hot air balloons and Virgin Atlantic seat covers.
Jamie Burdett joined the business from 2008-2012 and played a key part in the company’s development as it became amicably independent from Terra Plana and went on to enter several successful partnerships. These included a project with Eurostar to design a bag for their Train Manager’s out of their end of use staff uniforms. In 2011, Nick Ryan joined the Worn Again team in supporting Hemingway Designs in the design and recyclability of McDonald’s new uniforms for London’s 2012 Olympic Games.
While its upcycling venture was making a difference, the team knew that even its’ new products made from recycled materials would eventually find their way to landfill and that more would need to be done to help solve the problem of textile waste. Then came the ‘aha’ moment.The team realised if they wanted to be a catalyst for a circular clothing and apparel industry, they needed to recycle these materials at a molecular level. This would allow raw materials to be regenerated and returned into the supply chain as part of a continual process.
Cyndi and Nick began working on the challenge, but they were missing the vital technological component. That’s when Cyndi and Nick met Adam, who became Chief Scientific Officer. When they shared their intentions to create a process that could input both polyester and cotton to create virgin equivalent, cost competitive dual outputs for the clothing industry, Adam’s response was, ‘Of course, they’re polymers, what’s the problem?’
Over a half a decade later, and after a brave and exhilarating journey, the company is well on its way to building a first industrial plant. Today, its pioneering polymer recycling technology is being optimised and brought to life by world-class scientists and strategic partners who have a shared ambition: fast track this vision of a waste-free, circular resource world.