Innovation in Sustainable Supply Chain: LooptWorks
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Looptworks cofounders Scott Hamlin (left) and Gary Peck set out to build a company that would make products out of waste.
Looptworks is definitely on the national radar.
Last year, Oprah Winfrey gave a nod to one of Looptworks’ laptop sleeves in O Magazine. Al Gore is on record as a fan of the business. Fast Company has come calling twice since the company launched in 2009 and even the Wall Street Journal gave Looptworks some love this fall.
And yet the barely two-year-old company retains a relatively low profile in its hometown of Portland.
Looptworks’ goals are unabashedly lofty. The company is out to turn a supply chain upside down, eliminating waste by putting it to good use. The company upcycles fabrics and other materials otherwise destined for the landfill and turns them into cleverly designed outdoor wear with an urban edge.
So why haven’t the greens of Portland embraced Looptworks? Scott Hamlin, Looptworks cofounder, is working under the theory that Portland is a tough audience.
Looptworks isn’t recycling food cart takeout boxes, after all. The company is active in Asia where the textile industry is based. Its materials are mostly sourced from the waste stream there, and its designs are manufactured there as well. “What’s so sustainable about overseas operations?” is a question Hamlin often encounters.
“If people get through the process of being suspect and start to listen, they start to get engaged in the conversation,” Hamlin said.
While the rest of the industry is worried about recycling and reducing post-consumer waste, Looptworks is wrestling with a problem that Hamlin contends is much larger: pre-consumer waste.
As a result, the company operates differently than its counterparts in the apparel industry. Instead of creating designs and going out to find the textiles to make them with, Looptworks finds what’s available and designs a product to match.
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