Data-driven methods can reduce textile wastePublished 26 Sep 2022
The partnership between Lindström and Knowit shows how technology can be used to achieve sustainable development goals while also creating new value for customers.
Anna-Kaisa Huttunen from Lindström and Ville Hirvelä and Janne Suomalainen from Knowit are all well aware that companies can harness data to significantly reduce their burden on the environment.
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Knowit is a digital solutions consultancy firm whose core work involves promoting sustainable development goals through the use of technology. One of its clients, the textile service company Lindström, has done what most companies are still a long way from: it makes measurable use of the data obtained through cooperation with Knowit to achieve its sustainable development goals.
Operating in 24 countries and serving more than 237,000 customers, Lindström’s business generates a huge amount of data every day. Its fifteen million pieces of workwear, all fitted with RFID tags, generate on their own a sizeable data pool that is ripe for analysis.
The processed data serves Lindström’s key sustainability goals, according to which it aims to achieve carbon-neutral services by 2035 and has committed to mitigating global warming in accordance with the Science Based Target Initiative.
“We need to understand the emissions of both our own operations and our subcontracting chain. When we can identify which measures have the greatest impact on our goals at each moment in time, we can target our investments and development projects correctly,” explains Anna-Kaisa Huttunen, Lindstrom’s Senior Vice President for Ecosystems and Sustainability.
Recycling waste textiles
Lindström’s strategic goal for 2025 is to harness its partnerships to recycle all waste textiles, for example by turning them back into textile fibres. In this way, waste is transformed into a valuable raw material. The company is well on its way to achieving this goal, as it already has a recycling partner in 18 countries and a recycling rate of over 60%.
“With the help of analytics, we can examine both at the company group level and for each individual laundry what is happening with the recycling of waste textiles. It is important that we can take the data in an accessible form to where the work is being done. In this way, the data can genuinely be used to guide daily operations,” explains Knowit Senior Analytics Consultant Ville Hirvelä, Lindström’s data and analytics partner.
It is important to take the data in an accessible form to where the work is being done.
Knowit Senior Analytics Consultant Ville Hirvelä
Lindström’s laundry operations receive continuous, versatile and enlightening data through the reports and analytics compiled by Knowit. Laundry operations are monitored for how efficient and environmentally friendly they are, as well as for how much emissions and waste they generate.
“The huge amount of textile waste is a major global challenge. We want to be the leading company in our field for promoting sustainable development by reducing overproduction and textile waste. We can achieve this by streamlining our operations and helping our customers to act more responsibly and sustainably,” Huttunen says.
Lindström has evidence of the water and energy savings it has achieved: consumption per kilogram of washed textiles has halved in the last 30 years, while at the same time the business has grown many-fold.
Data generates customer value
Data on environmental responsibility is part of the customer value produced by Lindström.
“Together with our customers, we strive to find data-based ways to reduce workwear waste. We have discovered the customer experience benefits brought by data as well as future prospects for data-based additional services,” Huttunen continues.
Lindström has taken a continually proactive approach to reporting on its environmental impacts, letting all its customers know what data the customer can receive from them. Pioneering companies have already seized on the opportunity presented.
“Customers who themselves carry out corporate responsibility reporting and are committed to carbon neutrality targets will need accurate emissions data from their subcontractors. This is increasingly coming into the equation when customers are choosing between potential partners,” Huttunen says.
Because Lindström’s operations have long been led in a data-driven manner, both data and data sources are in no short supply.
"We get the best out of our data by combining different data sources. In this way, we can analyse our business operations more extensively and tackle problems that cannot be solved by relying on just a single data source,” Hirvelä concludes.