City of Tampere

Image Wear work clothes, City of Tampere

Enjoying the sun during carpet cleaning 

Tampereen Infra Oy and Tampereen Sarka Oy together with Image Wear brought Kierre® recycled composite benches to the carpet cleaning sites in Tampere. During the carpet cleaning, one can now sit down for a lunch break or just enjoy the sun and the summer greenery. 

An idea put to practice in a pilot project 

The idea of park benches came up, when the Corporate Responsibility Officer of Image Wear Kati Tukiainen met Milla Kolehmainen, the coordinator of the KIERTO project of Tampere employment and growth services at a training course of Finnish Textiles & Fashion. The KIERTO project started to promote the case and got Tampereen Infra Oy to join the project. 

In summer 2020, the KIERTO project together with Tampereen Infra Oy, Image Wear Oy and VR piloted an experiment, where two park benches of recycled material were tested in Hiedanranta and Eteläpuisto in Tampere. The benches were made from old disposed workwear of VR. In the municipality, a small survey was organized about the benches, where VR train tickets were drawn among the respondents. The project manager of the KIERTO project Riina Hiipakka-Lahti says that the respondents had wished that there were more benches for the residents of the city. 

Image Wear työvaatteet, Iidesranta ja Vehmainen

Kierre® benches to all carpet cleaning sites in Tampere 

In response to the wishes of the citizens, a larger pilot was delivered in the spring of 2021. The aim of the project was to combine sustainable development, circular economy and maintenance of old goods. And there could be no better place for a recycled composite bench than a site, where carpets are washed. A total of 30 benches were delivered to 19 carpet wash sites in Tampere - two benches to larger sites and one to smaller ones. The benches were delivered to the sites and installed before the carpet washes were opened. 

Image Wear delivered Kierre® benches as parts to Sarka Oy, who is one of the contractual suppliers of the city of Tampere. Sarka Oy provides employment to people with partial capacity for work and the long-term unemployed, rehabilitating them back into working life. Sarka assembled the benches and delivered these to the sites. 

Workwear recycling points for Tampereeen Infra 

Tampereen Infra Oy is a company owned by the city of Tampere, providing Tampere with municipal technology maintenance, construction and geospatial information services as well as equipment and repair services. The number of people working at Infra is around 330, with additional 100 seasonal workers in the summer. 

According to Teemu Kylmäkoski, the work manager of greenery maintenance, there has been a lot of talk about circular economy and sustainable development, and now the aim was to include workwear in recycling. In the future, the workwear at Infra will be collected and recycled into new raw material. The collection containers are already in place at four locations: Viinikankatu, Veertsankuja, Pirkankatu and Atala. This will improve the availability of not only recycled textiles, but also recycled plastic, when the mandatory separate collection of plastic packaging will come into force on September 1, 2022 for residential properties with at least five apartments in Tampere. 

Image Wear työvaatteet, Alasjärvi ja Ala-Pispala

User experience before the next project 

In the bench pilot at carpet washing sites, a special focus is on monitoring the durability of the benches. Kylmäkoski believes that the maintenance of the benches is going well. A plastic combined with textile fibres functions better than the plastic alone, because the textile acts as a reinforcing fibre in the material. A solid, hard, plate-like surface is also easier to clean, as it does not absorb markers or spray paint. The composite also withstands pressure washing. There has been no feedback about the benches yet, but the weather has not been too kind to the carpet washers either. In spring 2022, the carpet washing sites will be visited to see, how the benches look like after the winter.