In 2016, we were asked to supervise Alliander’s tender for safety clothing, work clothing and personal protective equipment in accordance with the competitive dialogue. In this tender we experimented, for example, with having life cycle analyses (LCAs) drawn up for clothing, in order to be able to compare them in terms of their environmental impact.
As a gas and electricity network operator, Alliander is an organization that uses safety clothing extensively. This clothing must protect employees against the potential injuries that can result from accidents with electricity and gas. In addition, Alliander has a policy to use tenders for a circular result as much as possible. Since 2014, Alliander has been investigating the possibilities of purchasing safety clothing circularly. During this extensive preparation period, a great deal of knowledge was gained about the sector and the challenges involved in actually moving to a safe and circular solution.
Support us during the tender for circular safety clothing and help us to develop the sector as far as possible in a circular direction.
Current situation and future
Circularity is not a main goal; the clothing must above all be safe, and the users must be satisfied with the products and want to wear the clothing (which in turn will increase their safety). An additional aim is to work towards a ‘circular’ clothing value chain, meaning that the clothing is maintained as well as possible and, in the end, can be subject to high-quality processing. These goals require the entire value chain to undergo a transition, and therefore also require a value chain approach.
Due to the complexity of this tender and the value chain cooperation required, a competitive dialogue was carried out. With the expected investments in mind, a maximum contract duration of 15 years was proposed, provided that the services being offered are carried out. In the selection phase, value chain cooperation is encouraged by explicitly asking for submissions by various disciplines in the chain (e.g. fabric supply, clothing design, clothing manufacture, logistics, maintenance and fiberization). During the dialogue, the value chain partners can gain a better understanding of each other’s processes, as well as a better understanding of the (im)possibilities of circularity in the clothing sector. In this way, an award framework that fits the market’s ability can be developed.
As a result of the request, various far-reaching collaborations have appeared in the market, and the contract was ultimately awarded to one of them: Circle-A. The winning consortium started supplying the safety clothing in 2019. Circularity now focuses primarily on extending the service life of the clothing (through better textiles and a better washing process), but also on less use than the regular products require. Because of the better view of what the employees need and the possibility to order what is needed, the clothing packages are now much more bespoke, and there is a return option for used clothing.