California’s textile industry and construction sector looking to gear up Circular Economy approach

July 10, 2019

The Dutch Consulate, also referred to as the Holland Circular Hotspot Pop Up Embassy organized a great local program. A Dutch delegation together with Holland Circular Hotspot’s Ruben Dubelaar visited both the city officials of San Francisco and the LA (County) to explore circular opportunities. During both meetings parties involved discussed to work together to accelerate circular economy/sustainability, both in California and the Netherlands. Areas for potential collaborations include PPP, Circular Procurement, Awareness Campaigns, Start up and Scale up innovations, Servitization, Circular Design, Digitalization of Materials, Recycling and Upcycling of materials. Parties involved will continue discussions in the coming months to work to a concrete plan that will be launched later this year (November). 


California has set high ambitions on sustainability!

On state, county and city level new developments are brought in line with the ambitions formulated in the Paris Climate Agreement. Plans focus on a resilient and renewable energy grid, decarbonization by electrifying (public) transportation and setting codes and standards for green building. Green jobs and social inclusiveness are integrated in the overall strategy. The latter may be the biggest challenge for a big metropole region like Los Angeles, with 60.000 homeless and LA harbors importing 40% of inbound US product, mostly all powered by fossil fueled oil tankers and trucks.  On the bright side, California is a region with a lot of Venture Capital and potential to develop new (green) business. Circular Economy and circular business models are familiar to most stakeholders but have not been integrated yet in all sectors and business models, although recent sustainability plans mention the lifecycle approach for production and consumption. The fashion industry seems to adopt a more sustainable approach, actively starting programs with Goodwill and with big brands like GAP, Levi’s, the North Face and Patagonia that show leadership on sustainability by starting programs on re-use, repair and recycling. The Dutch Consulate in San Francisco and Holland Circular Hotspot invited experts to join the program and collaborate to identify opportunities for collaboration in the construction and textile industry. Later this year, a delegation will go to California to follow up the meetings and to take the next step in the California – Dutch collaboration that started in 2017 with the signing of a MoU between Governor Brown and State Secretary Dijksma on sustainability and Circular Economy!

The Dutch delegation

Experts from the following organizations joined to present Dutch best practices on circular construction and textiles and identify opportunities for collaboration on Circular Economy. In 2017 Amsterdam won the price of most circular city during the Smart City Expo in Barcelona. Metabollic is a renowned consultant for cities to scan their metabolism and develop tools to identify areas for intervention to avoid waste in e.g. construction and textiles, they developed a scan so for the city of Charolotte. FME as the largest association for the technological industry represents 2200 members, many members develop high tech and data driven technologies that are provided to the build environment and cleantech industry. Center for Circular Textiles is a public private partnership that has been developed to close the loop in Fashion, the newly developed optical fiber sort machine of Wieland enables them to recycle textile more efficiently. Circular Fashion Games is an initiative of Start Up Mix, they work together with Sustainable Fashion L.A. to put together the first edition of the LA Circular Fashion Games in autumn 2019. Teams of Holland Circular Hotspot and the Consulate in San Francisco have their experts on Dutch Circular Economy and setting up programs for international public-private partnerships.

A general overview of the meetings and topics of discussion


Autodesk software enables 3d design, plans to enhance construction sector by combining BIM and GIS. Topics of discussion:

  • Building materials data hosted in a GIS platform informing a generative design solve for available material flows to new projects.
  • Accelerating urban mining with reality capture and machine learning.
  • Always looking for proof of concept opportunities


Rocky Mountain Institute & Watt Time:

REALIZE’ initiative. REALIZE is combining demand aggregation, using a “zero over time” approach, and supply chain coordination to deploy high-quality, prefabricated mass-scale retrofit packages that are easy to install and are financed through utility cost savings. REALIZE is inspired by the Dutch ‘ Energiesprong’.

  • Looking for new technologies to scale up retrofitting
  • Develop 4 – 6 pilot projects
  • Support organizations in licensing


Eco Block – City of Oakland:

Ecoblockis demonstration project, a PPP between different private stakeholders, local community, Berkely University and the City of Oakland. Potential to scale up many ecoblocks in the region. Opportunities to collaborate on:

  • Oakland population of 400k people
  • New technologies and circular construction approach to further reduce Co2 footprint
  • Exchange knowledge and best practices of pilot projects in NL and California



GAP, also owner of brands like Banana Republic and Old Navy. Strongly involved in international discussions on sustainability (Fashion for Good, Sustainable Apparel Coalition).

  • Potential collaboration to accelerate recycling of textiles (clothing) in CA. Might be topic of discussion with city of SF.
  • Collaborate to work on circular products (for production)
  • Good initiatives of Goodwill, can be taken a step further



Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising:
FIDM Students are educated in sustainability by every teacher/professor. Circularity on top of mind.

  • Development of Zero Waste clothing lines
  • Open to organize challengers and roundtable discussions on how to change the industry



Waste & Recycling company of SF

  • Working closely with SF City on recycling programs and awareness campaigns
  • Best practices in composting and re-using for CA-based vineyards
  • Collaborating with city of SF on ban on single use plastics


Los Angeles:


LA 2028:


Organization of Olympic Games 2028 in LA. Focusing on radical re-use, no construction of new building or stadiums. Social programs very important part of the legacy program.

  • Privately funded!
  • First focus on commercial partners and continue to work on best practices like the zero waste program of Coliseum in LA.
  • Interested to exchange knowledge and share best practices on organizing sustainable sports events.


LA Sanitation:

Sanitation department of LA. Strong focus on behaviour change to accelerate recycling of waste to bring back landfill and waste water. Inequity issues in town the main problem, 1 out of 7 children food insecure, 60.000 homeless people. Following sustainability plan of Mayor Garcetti, all in line with SDG’s.

  • Good results on campaigns, water consumption per capita brought back. 50% waste water recycling in 2025


Upcycle it Now

Upcycling of clothing. Working together with brands that re-take/ re-use the upcycled products

  • Interesting small scale company



Roundtable Sustainable Building Santa Monica (hosted by VTBS)

  1. van Tilburg is Honorary Consul of the Netherland, based in Santa Monica. Invited local contacts for a round table on local project developments.
  • Santa Monica, population of 93k
  • Green building standards en consulting services. Local standards Santa Monica above California standard.
  • Eco-Rapid Transit is a PPP between 11 LA cities and LA county. Expansion of current metro system with orange line to improve public transportation in LA region. VTBS involved in development of residential units.
  • VerdeExchange, yearly California event on green building and financing



Overview on economic developments LA region:

  • 40% of US imports through LA harbors (LA and Longbeach)
  • LA number 1 manufacturing industry in USA, entertainment industry 3rdlarge
  • More tech firms come to LA for educated personnel, over 110 local universities


LA Metro

LA public transportation system. Sustainability program focused on sustainable energy, water conservation, green construction and re-use of construction/demolition debris.

  • First sustainability procurement program.
  • Sustainability office: 18 staff members and 140 projects.
  • Focus on innovations, collaborating with other countries. Innovations bottom up or via office of extraordinary innovations
  • Financing by Carbon Credits Program
  • LA Metro energy resilient and neutral. 80% carbon reduced 2030, 100% reduced by 2050
  • Promotion of Public Transport necessary.


US Green Building Council – LA Chapter (based in LA kretz)

Circular Economy topic of discussion in LA.  Thought leadership series focus on the topics, construction industry there, talking about construction waste/retrofitting an important topic.

  • LA Krezt built by USGBC
  • Green Deal LA, buildings decarbonized by 2050
  • PPP with LA on water and energy
  • La Kretz incubator for scaling up new technologies (incubator)
  • Net zero accelerator programme


Nature USA.

Private label apparel manufacturer since 1997 with commitment to social responsibility & environmental sustainability, Organic, Fair Trade, Made in USA.

  • Starts project to return t-shirts to Nature USA for recycling.
  • Interesting organization for exchange of knowledge and experience. There might be opportunities to involve Nature USA in Dutch developments and learn from their business models, to apply in Holland.
  • Plans to involve Nature USA to set up collaboration between Holland and CA in circular textiles


Culver City

City within L.A., population of approx. 40.000 people. Meeting with City officials involved in new project developments and infrastructure.

  • Many high tech companies move to Culver City (e.g. Amazon Studio’s, Apple Studios)
  • More jobs than houses. Challenge to develop enough affordable housing for rapidly growing population
  • Growing awareness on Circular Economy, topic of interest in the city plans.
  • Request for proposal for Bike Path Design, part of the plan to implement new sustainable ways of transportation


LA County

Officials of LA County are the driving forces behind the sustainability plans of the region. In may a sustainability plans was drafted, based on 12 goals that are aligned with the Paris Climate Agreement. Goals number 9 is about sustainable production and consumption, targeting a complete lifecycle approach for production, consumption, re-use and recycling. A goal that can be aligned with the Dutch Circular Economy goals and vice versa.

  • Transportation network (Electricity)
  • Single-use plastics
  • Food & food waste.



Reformation makes sustainable women’s clothing and accessories. Reformation works on a holistic approach on sustainability, taking into consideration water input, energy input, land use, eco-toxicity, greenhouse gas emissions, human toxicity, availability and price. They also look at garment care implications, like microfiber shedding.

  • Working on bio-degradable packaging
  • Keen to work with Europe



Patagonia audits the materials and methods that are used to their products, ensuring a sustainable approach by taking responsibility for the entire lifecycle of products, but also by examining how resources at buildings and facilities are used. HQ Europe is based in Amsterdam.

  • Patagonia want to be CO2-neutral in 2025
  • Focus on not ‘over producing’, sometimes conflicting if you want to ensure enough stock on the other hand.
  • Re-use of rest materials in production process needed



The Northface (meeting conducted by CG after the factfinding mission)

The North Face Renewed program. Un-used, broken or torn apprarel are repaired and sold for reduced prices.

  • TNF geeft een lifetime warranty on clothing, to keep clothing in the loop for a longer period.
  • TNF Clothes the Loop: consumers return un-used TNF clothes and get a coupon for $10. Clothes4Souls donates the clothing to poor people.