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reuse, remaking and recycling of fabrics and knits

Unlike in a linear economy, the objective of the circular economy consists of an industrial practice based on a production system that enhances: the reuse, remaking, and recycling of fabrics and knits; the use of more sustainable raw materials and production processes; simultaneously promoting socio-environmental responsibility actions involving people and companies to rethink new projects, reduce impacts and waste, reuse products, and recycle materials with energy efficiency.
Therefore, the circular economy seeks the conception and production of textiles that are more environmentally conscious, in which products are designed from their genesis to be reused in cyclical flows, through the method called "Cradle to Cradle."

In this context, in terms of the circular economy, the Alec Group (a group of companies: Simão & Olgando SA, Gabritex Textile Confections Lda., GBTX Lda., Litonuvem Lda., Biatrapos Clothing Manufacturing Lda., and Iris Textile Dyeing and Finishing SA) has developed a strategy and industrial action line that proposes to implement the unavoidable premises of the circular economy and, in many aspects, go beyond these premises or guiding principles, in a logic of environmental responsibility that translates into an ambitious project called "Beyond Circular," which is based on ten autonomous and complementary lines of work or fields of action.
1 Development of Circular System
Currently, textile recycling and raw material circularity are achieved through the separation, storage, and delivery of excess raw materials resulting from the production process to a Portuguese recycling company. This company processes and converts them into new textile raw materials, which serve various purposes in terms of effective reuse.

The most ambitious objective, subject to joint study with some of the Group's key clients, aims for complete product circularity. This means achieving the return of the product, after its cycle of use or life, to the industrial origins, with the intention of reintroducing it effectively into the production chain through reuse, recycling, or other methods. By doing so, the circle is closed, and environmental sustainability is fully achieved.

2 Promotion of the Use of Ecological Products (products, packaging, raw materials, accessories, etc.)
In the development and processing of customer orders, all companies within the group have the essential mission to research and always offer the most environmentally friendly solutions available technically and in the market. This includes the selection of raw materials, accessories, prints, transfers, and other applications, as well as packaging, including shipping boxes. Everything is carefully studied and analyzed to ensure that properly certified environmentally friendly solutions are always presented and made available. This includes textiles made from renewable or recycled sources, accessories created with recycled and recyclable materials, biodegradable and PVC-free packaging, boxes from controlled sources and responsible use of forest resources, and more.

3 Industrial Waste Management
Textile Waste - Excess raw materials and accessories undergo a rigorous process to assess the opportunity for them to be stored for future productions for the same client for whom they were developed and acquired. If their category does not require exclusivity or reservation based on any of their characteristics, the next step is to study the possibility of their internal or external reuse. Once these possibilities are exhausted, the materials, along with the resulting waste from cutting and sewing processes, are sent in their entirety to licensed, certified, and accredited reuse and recycling centers.
Paper and Cardboard Waste - Strict processing and separation are implemented in all production sectors, and the waste is entirely directed to recycling centers that are properly licensed, certified, and accredited.
Plastic Waste - Rigorous processing and separation take place in all production sectors, and the waste is entirely directed to recycling centers that are properly licensed, certified, and accredited.

4 Water Resources Management
All production processes incorporate equipment and procedures aimed at efficiently managing water usage. The group stands out as one of the most efficient and responsible in terms of water resource utilization. This is achieved through the use of well water combined with rainwater harvesting, which is filtered and treated by internal equipment. Additionally, water recovery and closed-loop reuse systems are implemented after appropriate treatment at the group's own wastewater treatment plant (Iris). This approach reduces reliance on potable water from the public supply network. The group's commitment to water resource responsibility is reflected in ongoing investments, such as the acquisition of boilers and washing machines with reduced water consumption.

5 Energy Efficiency
The group's investments have been characterized by a strong focus on replacing industrial electrical equipment with environmentally friendly next-generation equipment that significantly reduces energy consumption. For example, sewing machines equipped with "head" motors consume approximately 50% less energy than traditional models. This commitment to energy efficiency drives the group's investment decisions.

The progressive replacement of diesel and gas boilers with electric boilers, as a way to contribute to the industrial decarbonization process, is also an ongoing initiative that marked the group's investment in two state-of-the-art boilers in 2022. The gradual and soon-to-be complete elimination of all analog lighting systems and their replacement with advanced LED lighting systems, which are much more energy-efficient, has been a global objective for the Alec Group. The implementation of this objective is nearing completion.

6 Renewable Energy
Within the Beyond Circular project, the objective is to continue the implementation of solar or photovoltaic panels, expanding them to all production units within the group. In this regard, 154 panels have already been installed at Simão & Olgando, 112 panels at Gabritex, and approximately 600 panels at IRIS. The next step, in 2023, will be the installation of around 112 panels at GBTX, followed by the medium-term installation of similar equipment in the group's other production units. The gradual purchase and use of energy exclusively from renewable sources, primarily hydroelectric, has earned the company green energy certification in four of its units, with plans to continue this process in the remaining units.

7 Reduction of Plastic Usage
Plastic bags are frequently used in the handling of productions within the companies, between group companies, and with subcontractors, laundries, embroiderers, and printers. In industrial handling processes alone, approximately 12 tons of plastic bags are used per year throughout the Alec Group. With this action plan, the aim is to reduce plastic bag usage by around 80% through the use of reusable textile bags in all production processes by 2024, and to completely eliminate the use of plastic bags in production processes by 2025.

8 Reduction of Paper Usage
The Alec Group is developing an integrated software scanning system through the specialized services of a technology partner. The goal is to progressively minimize the use of paper processes and documents within the company, limiting it to strictly necessary or legally required instances. The implementation of computerization and digitalization, with the presence of computer terminals at various process control points, and the use of PDAs for external quality and production control, will soon become a reality in the Alec Group.

9 Ecological Mobility
After replacing the entire company vehicle fleet with vehicles equipped with particle filters, AdBlue systems, and reduced carbon emissions, as well as some hybrid vehicles, the objective now is to progressively acquire and use electric vehicles. This approach aims to utilize the energy generated by the companies' photovoltaic panels for a more environmentally friendly mobility system.

10 Environmental Compensation
To offset the ecological footprint of the different production processes within the Alec Group, tree planting and reforestation campaigns will be carried out as part of internal environmental education, involving employees. Additionally, the group will support and participate in environmental intervention campaigns such as cleaning natural spaces (e.g., beaches, forests, national parks, etc.). Furthermore, direct financial support or providing resources and equipment to environmental protection entities and associations will be pursued to contribute to environmental education within the communities where the group's companies are located, as part of the journey towards full sustainability.

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