When Steve Whiteway sadly passed away in October 2020, he left an incredible lasting legacy that will live on through those who knew him best.
Steve’s list of lifetime achievements was endless. As well as being a tireless campaigner who raised more than £750,000 for good causes, Steve was a beloved director of Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce.
Quite simply, he dedicated his life to helping others, whether that was a small business needing help or a community organisation in need of funds.
More than that, he was a shrewd businessman and a wonderful friend and colleague who will be missed by all who knew him.
Among his many accolades are the Prime Minister’s Points of Light award. He even had a train named after him with the words, ‘Steve Whiteway, volunteering and serving the Plymouth community for over 50 years’.
But what you may not have known is that Steve was also working closely alongside lifelong friend, Marilyn Grose, owner of Encore in Saltash, to increase awareness and supplies of eco-friendly uniform.
Part of their work involved attending a Schools Sustainability Conference in Plymouth where they exhibited blazers made from recycled plastic bottles, made by David Luke Schoolwear.
Steve was an award-winning environmental champion; he was renowned for making connections and later suggested they should meet Tim Cross of the Circular Textiles Foundation (CTF) Plymouth. Sadly, that joint meeting never actually happened.
However, now, by complete coincidence, independent school uniform retailer Encore in Saltash will soon be taking delivery of the UK’s first fully recyclable school blazer by David Luke Schoolwear, designed in collaboration with the Circular Textiles Foundation (CTF) Plymouth.
Family-owned school uniform manufacturer David Luke has been working in collaboration with the CTF since September 2022, on a journey to review the design and make-up of the bestselling eco-blazer to identify the steps needed to make it a circular garment.
Encore Uniforms, Saltash will be placing orders in time for families to buy for the new school year at no extra cost.
Marilyn Grose, owner of Encore, Saltash explains: “We started supplying uniforms about six years ago as an addition to our long-standing costume business. We have been delighted to have David Luke as one of our suppliers and especially for our ‘eco blazers’.
“In that short time, word of mouth has spread significantly and parents have been thrilled with the quality and the fact that we are all making a difference to the environment.
“Steve and I were working hard together on the eco-friendly uniforms and he actually said to me before he was poorly that we should meet up with Tim Cross from Circular Textiles Foundation in Plymouth.
“I finally managed to catch up with Tim on a Zoom call sometime after Steve passed away but by sheer coincidence, I was at a meeting with David Luke, my blazer supplier, and realised that Tim was the main speaker and that it was his company they had teamed up with to create this ‘first’. This is incredibly exciting and I know Steve would have been so thrilled.
“The schoolwear industry has made significant progress in sustainability, recognising the importance of reducing its environmental impact and promoting ethical practices.
“From incorporating more sustainable materials such as recycled polyester to implementing takeback schemes and pre-loved initiatives. We are very proud to be trail blazing this new circularity initiative that offers a genuine solution to tackling textile waste and look forward to sharing news of the innovation with our customers.”
Ryan Cooke, Product Manager at David Luke, says: “In order to manufacture circular garments, we need to design clothes which are made to be remade whilst ensuring the price of the garment doesn’t change.
“Consultation from the CTF and Project Plan B has enabled us to transition our blazers into mono-fabric recyclable garments, compatible with thermo-mechanical recycling processes.”
Designing for circularity will see David Luke’s bestselling eco-blazer reimagined in five subtle but critical ways to ensure it is suitable for the recycling process when it reaches the end of its life.
Ryan adds: “The key areas of the school blazer that we needed to rethink or remove were the lining, swing ticket, brand label, zippers and pockets. The new circular blazer will appear unchanged at first glance, but the impact of these changes will enable the garment to be fully recyclable.
“At the end of life, we feed the blazers into a thermo-mechanical recycling machine which converts the fabric into PET pellets. At this point PET pellets move into conventional manufacturing, supporting the circular principle of keeping raw materials at their highest possible value in the manufacturing chain.”
For further information about ENCORE UNIFORMS, SALTASH please contact Marilyn Grose, Encore Uniforms 21c Brunel Road, Saltash, Cornwall PL12 6LF via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07715 557757.