Rester – towards a more resource-wise textile industry

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LinkedIn

Outi Luukko, Rester’s CEO

Textile recycling will become mandatory in the EU by 2025. Recycling is already routine at Rester’s plant in Paimio.

The idea for Rester, a recycler of textile fibres, started out through Touchpoint, a workwear company established by Outi Luukko in 2008. Touchpoint’s goal was to offer sustainable workwear solutions in which materials are recycled in a closed loop.

The aim of a closed loop is to recycle side streams or waste streams from industrial production or end-of-life materials into raw material for the same or different industrial sector. This replaces using virgin raw material, maximising the utilisation of materials as well as minimising waste and emissions.

The circular economy will change attitudes to waste – a resource-wise model should be the goal for all materials. The most innovative waste management companies are currently transforming themselves to meet the needs of the future.

An idea turned into a plant

Luukko’s goal of ecological, closed-loop services came up against the sluggishness of the textile sector, the lack of ecological alternatives, and the culture that prevailed in the sector.

Once the problems were identified, they needed to be resolved. Support was provided by, for instance, the Telaketju – Business from Circularity of Textiles projects organised by VTT (Technical Research Centre of Finland). During that time Luukko decided to set up a circular economy plant for textiles, which came to be in 2019.

Rester’s first couple of years were spent on building a business and a service model, and on refining the technology. The plant in Paimio, Finland, was completed in spring 2021, and industrial production started up in November 2021.

From the outset, we’ve had a unique collaboration framework with Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto (South-West Finland municipality’s waste management facility). We operate in the same premises, with our production line receiving textile waste from companies and Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto receiving textiles from consumers. Our target is to produce high-quality raw material for different branches of industry from all the types of material we receive.

The total output of the plant is 11,000 tonnes a year, of which Rester’s production line accounts for 6,000 tonnes.

A pioneer changes the mindset

Since the use of recycled fibres is in its early days, Rester’s experts must work hard at education and marketing, to convince companies of recycled fibre’s potential.

Our task is to challenge our customers. At the same time, we’re clearly seeing a strong transition to a circular economy, supported by the EU’s legislation and textile strategy.

Globally, only one per cent of textiles are recycled into new material. The other 99 per cent are incinerated or dumped in landfill sites. The use of textile fibres is forecast to grow by a factor of 1.5 during the 2020s, fuelled by population growth and consumers’ preference for single-use textiles. The equation is not sustainable, so textile recycling is essential.

Our ambition is to bring about a change, one that involves all the parties in the value chain. We collaborate a lot with the different players in, for instance, material testing, certification and ensuring product safety.

Our task is to challenge our customers. At the same time, we’re clearly seeing a strong transition to a circular economy, supported by the EU’s legislation and textile strategy.

Extensive expertise from investors

Luukko points out that Rester’s success comes from the purposefulness of the company’s founders, the ‘true grit’ (or, ‘sisu’) Finns are famous for, and the capability and expertise to develop the company and its transition to the circular economy. Success depends on understanding the sector and its value chains as well as on a strong vision of the goals for textile recycling.

Through its investment round in summer 2022, Rester received solid support for its growth. The round was led by Lindström Group, one of Rester’s largest customers. Lindström’s goal is 100% recycling of end-of-life textiles in 2025. Tesi also participated in the round through its Circular Economy programme. Other new owners included Taaleri Sijoitus and Besodos Investors Oy, the latter keenly focused on responsible investment. Touchpoint continues as the company’s principal shareholder.

Tesi works for the success of Finnish companies and has provided Rester not only with growth financing but also with an understanding of industrial growth.

Without investments we wouldn’t be able expand into international markets despite them having great demand for our services. Tesi provides us with its industrial expertise and knowhow in scaling our business for international markets,” Luukko says.

Windows open to Europe

Rester’s internationalisation is already on a fast track because its plant sources textile materials from outside Finland. That is because there is no other similar plant or service in northern Europe. The company has opened a service outlet in Sweden, which receives textiles for recycling.

We’ve made plans for expanding our plant, but no decision to do so has yet been made,” Luukko reveals about the company’s plans.”

In addition to the current plant, which serves the Nordic countries, Rester is planning plants in continental Europe. They could be identical to the existing plant or tailored to the target market.

Luukko has a realistic understanding of the company’s growth, although the global market is indeed enormous. Steps to take in the next few years include the creation of value chains for all production streams and the development of a recycling centre in Sweden. After that, Rester has set its sights on expanding into continental Europe, either with its own plant or through a joint venture with a local player.

Luukko does not set a target year for the company growing to generate a hundred million business.

“Time is on our side. The textile industry needs a more resource-wise operating model because running out of virgin raw material is a real threat,” says Luukko.


Tesi wants to raise Finland to the forefront of transformative economic growth. We develop the market, and work for the success of Finnish growth companies. We invest in venture capital and private equity funds and directly in growth companies. We provide long-running support, market insights, patient capital, and skilled ownership. | Twitter LinkedIn | Newsletter