Blog - Why there?
Wolkat is a family business that was founded in Tilburg in 1948. This typical Brabant family character is still present today as I work together with my daughter, mother and father on the development of our recycled products. However, a lot has changed since 1948; for example, in addition to the Tilburg location, a Wolkat production was opened in the northern Moroccan coastal town of Tangier in 1995. We often get the question: why there? Well, there are several reasons.
Firstly, it's the strategic location of the city. Tangier has a large harbour where the ships with the discarded textile can easily sail to from the harbour of Rotterdam or Antwerp. Once there, the textiles are sorted according to colour and raw material and transported to the Wolkat factory in the city. The textiles are processed there under one roof into new end products: your discarded jumper is first turned into a recycled yarn, and then woven into a new textile. Once it arrives in Tangier, the discarded textile has a short trip to the factory, after which it is processed from start to finish in one and the same place. Many other textile producers do it differently; for example, this article from the BBC describes the typical journey of a fast-fashion dress. In addition to saving on transport costs and CO2 emissions, having everything under one roof is more convenient and practical for Wolkat; for example, if the weaver has a problem with a yarn, he can just walk over to the spinning department and inquire directly about what happened.
In addition, more and more clothing brands are (partially) relocating their production to Tangier, which is also known as the gateway to Europe. If Wolkat's fabrics have to be processed into a bag or garment, there are plenty of local companies who can do this well, and through these companies, Wolkat has an immediate connection with the clothing brands.
Apart from the strategic location, the financial aspect plays an important role in the decision to produce in Tangier, and not in Tilburg as has traditionally been the case. As described earlier, the process of mechanical recycling requires a lot of hands-on work: Wolkat sorts the textiles to be recycled according to colour and raw material, which our well-trained employees all do by hand. Due to the fact that labour costs in Morocco are lower than in the Netherlands and other European countries, even after this labour-intensive recycling process Wolkat can still deliver yarns and textile products that can compete with non-recycled textile materials produced by competitors in, for example, Asia. While many clothing or interior design brands want to become sustainable, price will always be an important motive for the producer and the consumer to choose or not to choose a more sustainable product. By keeping the cost price of our products lower, Wolkat can compete in the competitive world textile market.
Ideally, we would also prefer to carry out the entire process from discarded jeans to recycled jeans in Tilburg or the Netherlands and recycle our textiles locally, and therefore be more sustainable. Unfortunately, with current Dutch labour costs, this is not (yet) cost-effective for Wolkat.
 https://www.bbc.com/news/business-39337204 , BBC, 2017
 https://www.supplychainmagazine.nl/fast-fashion-komt-steeds-vaker-marokko/ Supply chain magazine, 2017