Ever since 1983, Kathleen Kirkwood has been Deigning Shoulder Pads and Padded Bra’s, and after 14 million Shoulder Pads Sold with 28 Years on QVC, she went on a hunt to uncover a Recycling Method.
Discovering that ½ billion bras are sold each year, since its infancy of a 1939 Bra Patent by Otto Titzling according to Wallace Reyburn (author of BUST-UP), it was time for a Sustainable Way to Say Goodbye when a bra lost its support or no longer ‘fit’. Ms. Kirkwood’s Quest to recycle began May 2010 with a test in Cumberland, Tennessee, sponsored in part by a 10,000-bra donation from Maidenform. Now, 10 years later, almost to the day, the B.R.A.® (Bra Recycling Agency) has been issued a U.S. Design Patent for SUCCESSFULLY upcycling brassieres into Commercial Carpet Padding in the U.S.A.
US Design Patent #D889,140 here: https://www.freepatentsonline.com/D889140.pdf
The Bra Recycling Process
Initially, Ms. Kirkwood reached out to the American Chemistry Council (ACC) (this council facilitates advances in reducing IMPACT for the Plastics Industry) for guidance & potential ‘how-to’s”. The ACC found this initiative to be unique and critical, and in turn provided the B.R.A.® a direct connection to Universal Composites, a Recycling Broker/Recycler of PET Plastics.
The subsequent Series of ‘Method-Testing’ unfolded over 4 years, and a final TEST Grind proved successful. The Grind was ‘beaded’ for use in Carpet Padding Material provided by Leggett & Platt, a Publicly Traded Company recycling over 300 million lbs. of foam Each Year. In 2020, Leggett entered the B.R.A.® into their Eco-Initiative which passed their internal ‘compliance’, to become an Exclusive Partner with the B.R.A.® to ‘UPCYCLE’ into their Carpet Padding for the Intimate Apparel Industry.
A good deal of credit for the upcycling success must be granted to Rich Silberfeld, CEO of Universal Composites, who consistently juggled obstacles, machine failures, blade destruction and all-out ‘walls-of “no”,’ to find the method & flow of B.R.A. ® carpet padding. Once the beading process separates the Plastic Ring & Slides through high-speed shakers, the PET plastic is sent to Bottle top companies, and finally the Underwire (Steel) is extracted with a Unique I.P. system of magnets & catch bins. It is B.R.A.® ‘s intent to collect the underwire and sell it into the Metal Recycling Market, and then donate 100% of the income to Breast Cancer Recovery: specifically to the organization Beautiful Self (BeautifulSelf.org) – “Empowering Survivors to Thrive in Their NOW Self”. The Campaign for breast cancer recovery is titled “GREEN with a PINK Ribbon”.
The B.R.A.® intends to expand this category by reaching out to the multitude of Charities (National & Local) including Universities, Wellness Centers and Green Grass Root Organizations. Each charity “Recycle & Donate” ‘offer’ is uploaded onto the B.R.A. ® website in the FUNDRAISING section.
A shift “in this time of Social Distancing”, to recycle “Virtually”, without contact, has been a game changer for B.R.A. ® which developed 3 ‘contactless’ solutions for Brands & Stores including: “Text to Recycle”; a Custom branded URL sign-up form to recycle; and B.R.A.® Certification SmartTags™ (technology provided by QWASI Technology in partnership with their Sustainability Plan.)
Finally, as the high-speed trend of Fashion’s CIRCULAR solutions was fortified in McKinsey’s Report for The Business of Fashion (BoF) titled “the New Normal”., the need for Textile Recycling grows. The “Paris Agreement” carbon abatement goal for the Fashion Industry’s emissions by 2030 is 1.7 gigatonnes of CO2 equivalent, less than Today. Recycling is part of the U.N. SDG-12 “RESPONSIBLE Consumption and Reduction”, and Educators and Business Development are reaching towards integrating those Goals.
Kathleen Kirkwood has shared her message at NASDAQ in New York City and on various Talks, Panels & Podcasts. Ms. Kirkwood has recently appeared on the Impact Podcast with John Shegerian (iHeartRadio), discussing the topic of Turning Fashion Into Recycling: https://impactpodcast.com/episode/2020/11/turning-fashion-into-recycling-with-kathleen-kirkwood/
Brands & retailers can book a consultation call with Kathleen Kirkwood at https://go.oncehub.com/KathleenKirkwood.
Watch Ms. Kirkwood speaking at NASDAQ: