BASF-upcycling with VAUDE Professional´s support

Upcycling: Backpacks made from old work clothes

23.11.23 - Usually, upcycled products are created by individuals for personal use or by businesses for resale. However, when a major corporation decides to embark on an ambitious upcycling project for the benefit of its own employees - and primarily for the environment - it grabs attention.

BASF, the world's largest chemical corporation headquartered in Germany, specialized in the development of monomers, polyamides, and high-performance plastics for industries such as pharmaceuticals, construction, textiles, and automotive. One of BASF's many facilities is located in Antwerp, Belgium, employing approximately 3,500 staff members. These employees predominantly wear specialized work clothing made of durable functional materials for their tasks. This clothing meets the highest safety standards, is highly robust, flame-resistant, antistatic, and has excellent mechanical strength. However, despite these positive attributes, there is a significant drawback to this protective clothing: it cannot be recycled like regular textiles. Worn-out garments had to be disposed of as waste due to their unique properties.

Turning the old into new – work wear for backpacks

BASF had the innovative idea to transform retired workwear into new work backpacks using the same high-quality fabric. They collaborated with VAUDE Professional - expert for the development of sustainable, customized textile products, employee equipment and corporate wear, to find an effective solution. Two backpack models were designed for safe work in chemical plants and this approach solves several issues at once: waste reduction and providing functional equipment without consuming new resources - true upcycling! „With this project, we are redefining what it means to be sustainable,” says Steven Elseviers, Process Manager, BASF Antwerp. 

VAUDE Professional as the partner of choice

To realize this ambitious project, BASF approached VAUDE Professional as a partner given VAUDE has a strong commitment to sustainability, expertise in high-quality carrying solutions, and the capability to develop tailor-made solutions. The task for the VAUDE Professional team was significant: they had to process partially worn-out work clothing in sizes ranging from S to XXL and make them suitable for manufacturing new products. "We are proud that we can significantly contribute to the environmental situation through our work and expertise," says Renate Ebi, Head of VAUDE Professional.

BASF Upcycling Backpacks and Drawstring Bags - Made in Europe 

VAUDE Professional has developed two models precisely tailored to the needs of BASF employees: a practical 15-liter backpack and a drawstring bag. The BASF Upcycling Backpack features a separate laptop compartment, padded back, padded shoulder straps, and an organized interior layout. The BASF-Upcycling drawstring bag comes with an additional protective cover and is primarily used for transporting the necessary respiratory masks for work. Each product is a unique item that convinces with its functionality and eco-friendliness. Moreover, the products are based on a strong upcycling ratio: approximately two old work clothing items are transformed into a new backpack or drawstring bag. The backpacks and bags are embroidered with BASF and VAUDE branding, along with the slogan 'for a SUSTAINABLE future.' 

As part of the sustainable transformation, VAUDE has been committed for many years, together with the independent Fair Wear Foundation, to high social standards, good working conditions and fair wages in the global supply chain. This is why the production of the upcycling backpack models take place in a Fair Wear-audited facility in Portugal.  With this project, which is transitioning into an ongoing process, BASF is setting a positive example for sustainability and environmental protection. The backpacks and drawstring bags for BASF employees reduce waste, save CO2, and new resources compared to producing from new materials, making a valuable contribution to eco-friendly circular economies in the industry. „Seeing our own end-of-life workwear transformed into practical and stylish backpacks brings us great joy and pride,” adds Lotte Adriaenssens, safety referent & support, BASF Antwerp.

The BASF-Upcycled backpack or drawstring bag is made from approximately two old work clothing items.

Please contact for further information about this project.

Click here to watch a short video about the project and find more information about VAUDE Professional here.