At Lavelanet, textiles create new jobs

Société Coopérative d'Intérêt Collectif, Vertex launched a new textile recycling and upgrading business in late 2010. A means to create jobs in a commune struck by the economic recession.

Social and Employment

Lavelanet, France

Philippe Bernat

€20,000 to the Selection Committee at 2011/01/18

Project leader

SCIC Vertex

"The manager of this project spent several weeks in training with "Le Relais" in order to launch and carry out this action. She has signed agreements for the procurement and sale of the sorted products. The sources of the fabrics and the possibilities of resale, which are the keys to the economic viability of the project, have been clearly identified."

Philippe Bernat

In the days of the Cathars, Lavelanet was already known for its textile activities.
To the point where the road that linked the famous castle of Monségur to the town, a few kilometers lower down, was called the "Way of the Weavers (Chemin des Tisserands)". But this knowhow, developed in several workshops in the XIXth and XXth centuries, was overwhelmed by the arrival of African and Asian textiles and clothing on the European market. Factories started closing down in the mid-Seventies, until activities came to a complete halt, leaving hundreds of people jobless. Many of them left the town (which lost a third of its population in 30 years), but many others remained.

Société Coopérative d'Intérêt Collectif (SCIC), Vertex is part of the structures mobilized to revive local employment. Since November 2010, it collects, upgrades, recycles and sells textiles that it recovers from various partners, like the Emmaus network. To develop this business, it employs people in difficulty, in order to help them ultimately find a lasting job.

Objectives achieved in the first months of operation

In the first two months of its activity, the SCIC has already achieved the targets that it set: it has procured jobs under back-to-work contracts for sixteen persons who also receive social and professional supervision. Eight of them deal with sorting, five do materials handling, two are drivers, and the last one does secretarial services. All in all, the employees of the SCIC processed 240 tonnes of textiles in November and December 2010, corresponding to a target to sort and upgrade some 1500 tonnes in the first year of activity, and then 1600 later.

The Veolia Foundation, which has been approached to help this young SCIC achieve its aims, gave it a grant to buy some indispensable equipment to support its development. Since startup, Vertex has in fact confirmed the relevance of its economic positioning, with regard to demand for its recycled products.

The workforce development agency "Le Relais" buys its recycled textiles at various prices according to quality (clothing that can be sold in shops, or the lightest articles can be sent to Africa). And companies specializing in the production of thermal and acoustic insulation or - for cotton - companies which need rags for cleaning, are already customers for its products.