92 Elmar Stroomer – circular textile solutions in Africa
Elmar Stroomer is the founder of Africa Collect Textiles (ACT). Africa Collect Textiles does exactly that – collecting used textiles across Africa, for reuse, recycling and upcycling.
Elmar Stroomer has a strong background in the circular economy and design, and lived in Kenya and Uganda between 2012 and 2017 to get Africa Collect Textiles up and running. Now, Elmar is working full time on the expansion of ACT in Kenya and Nigeria. ACT aims to develop solutions to end the textile waste issues across Africa. It distributes free and affordable clothing to underprivileged communities, and currently has over 40 collection points in Nairobi and Lagos for used textiles. It provides employment to more than 50 people, who help collect, sort and upcycle fashion waste, used uniforms and off-cuts, creating products such as rugs, backpacks, toys and much more. On top of this, for every kilogram of used textiles it recycles, Africa Collect Textiles (ACT) donates 10 Kenyan shillings to charity. We hear about how fashion waste imported from the global north has undermined the existing textile and clothing sector in Kenya, and why Elmar decided to create a circular economy for locally produced textiles. Elmar tells us about some of the circular initiatives that ACT has set up, including repurposing workshops, services for resellers that overcome some of the major issues with the system for reselling imported end-of-use textiles, and innovative ways of repurposing end-of-life clothing for local businesses.