© Drop&Loop
Author profile picture

About Drop & Loop

  • Founders: Susan de Vries & Carlijn Oosthoek
  • Founded in: 2020
  • Employees: 5
  • Money raised: Investments made by Wolkat
  • Ultimate goal: A circular clothing economy

In addition to plastic bottles, you can also hand in your old clothes to a machine in some Dutch supermarkets. Those clothes are sorted and reused, and even zippers do not have to be thrown away. Drop & Loop, founded in 2020 by Susan de Vries and Carlijn Oosthoek, is already making this possible at ten different locations in the Netherlands. Susan tells us more about it in this instalment of start-up of the day.  

How does that hand-in work exactly?

”You can compare it to a bottle dispenser for returnable bottles. Instead it’s for textiles. We have machines where you can hand in all kinds of clothing and textiles. From belts to dresses and from bath towels to stuffed animals. Even the quintessential deposit receipt is included in our service. As a thank you, you get a discount on your next purchase or you can save for a tea towel, for example. Together with our textile recycling partner Wolkat from Tilburg, we make sure that the clothing is then sorted. If it is still wearable, it will be sold. Otherwise Wolkat turns it into yarn, which is then used to make new fabrics. Zippers and buttons are removed and reused.

How did this idea come about?

”We both have a keen interest in the clothing industry. When we found out that 150 million kilos of clothing are burned every year in the Netherlands and that 60 percent of textiles are still thrown out with household waste, we wanted to do something about it right away. We then worked together to further develop the idea and were able to run a pilot at Albert Heijn de Block in Krimpen aan den IJssel. It was a great success.’’

Now you have actual hand-in machinery, how did you manage that

“Sometimes you also have to be a bit lucky. Just when we were looking for a manufacturer, we came across someone at a trade fair in Germany who had built something similar for a customer in the past. That idea had not been properly implemented at the time. Consequently, he ended up with ten machines that were just sitting around gathering dust. Those machines are not perfect, but they are a good test case for us. We are now well into the development process for new machines in a collaboration with the VDL Groep Eindhoven. These machines are a bit more stable and can also weigh clothes.”

Was it difficult to finance this idea?

“To be honest, no. We even had several contenders. I think it’s because the circular concept is really booming. Maybe it also secretly helped that we are both women. Of course you also need good partners and because the AH in Krimpen immediately believed in us, all sorts of doors opened up. Eventually, we ended up with Wolkat as our partner, because we can learn a lot from their expertise and we work well together.”

Where will you be in five years from now?

”Then there should be a Drop & Loop in every city and village.”

Every village? 

“Okay, maybe not in Lutjebroek. But scaling up is really our ambition. We also really believe that this is feasible. A lot of interest has already been expressed in the new series of machines. Not only by consumers, but also by the stores themselves. This is essential, because recycling is becoming increasingly more important And recycling is really what we, together with Wolkat, are enormously good at, right down to the last zipper.”