Circular service specialist Texaid and the ReHubs initiative of EURATEX have launched a project that will transform textile waste into feedstock.
- The major outcome of this project will be a sorting-factory blueprint fulfilling the requirements to the future needs of fibre-to-fibre recycling, enabling the future of more sustainable textiles by using recycled fibres.
- The project addresses a technology and capacity gap in sorting for reuse and recycling to ensure that high-quality raw materials from non-wearable textile waste can be made available on a large scale.
The Work: The project will enable real scalable sorting in a sense of sorting 4.0, according to Martin Böschen, CEO of Texaid.
- At the onset, there will be a technology assessment, followed by a demo plant before going to full scale by the end of next year.
- Companies like Concordia, CuRe Technology, Decathlon, Inditex, Indorama Ventures, L’Atelier des Matières, Lenzing, Marchi & Fildi, PurFi, Södra, and Worn Again are taking part in the project to jointly evaluate technologies and the business case for scaled sorting for reuse and recycling.
- ITA Academy GmbH (in cooperation with RWTH Aachen) together with CETIA has been commissioned for the assessment of technologies.
- The outcome will be an innovative sorting system 4.0, building on cross-functional technologies with digitalisation and automation at its core.
The Context: Textile waste is a problem in Europe. Out of 7–7.5 million tonnes of textiles discarded every year, only 30–35% are collected separately – and of that quantity, only 15–20% are sorted by medium and larger sorting facilities within the EU.
- After sorting, 60% still qualify as wearable clothes. However, after a second or third collection loop, all textiles become non-wearable sooner or later.
- Therefore, fibre-to-fibre recycling is becoming increasingly important to preserve valuable resources.
The textile recycling value chain is not yet mature, but the turning point could be deployment of fibre recycling technologies on a large scale.
- If successful, the textile recycling industry could reach a recycling rate of 18–26 per cent of gross textile waste in 2030. This would create economic, social and environmental value that could total €3.5–4.5 billion in 2030.
- Today, there is a sorting gap to achieve a circular economy for textiles in Europe.
- To feed this new circular value chain, a significant sorting-capacity increase is needed with 150–250 sorting and recycling facilities nearby.