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In Tuscany there is a large industrial area specialized in the textile sector, namely as the Prato district. Considered the world capital of recycled wool, Prato has artisanal production skills in a context of circular economy whose district has more than 34,000 employees, 2,000 companies (Beste Spa & Beste Hub, Nuova Fratelli Boretti, Filpucci, Progetto Lana ecc.) and produces about 3 million meters of fabric a day. 

The Prato companies have been collecting bales of used clothes (rags) for decades, of which more than 50% is destined for reuse, a part for recycling and 3% ends up in landfills. The selection of the rags takes place in warehouses that house a huge amount of raw material used to obtain a specific color. The latter, carefully selected by the expert eyes and hands of the shoemakers, is then prepared for the regeneration process: washing, shredding, purification and drying have as a final result a single-color fiber, similar to virgin wool, which can then be spun into threads to produce fine fabrics.

Therefore, what was considered a dirty waste is instead a high quality good and a symbol of sustainable industrial production. The awareness and socio-economic commitment of Prato is a concrete example of how tradition and innovation, manual and mechanical processes, man and technology can mix in a unique reality in which work, territory, choices and solutions are based on environmental sustainability.

© Matteo Capone
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