An East London-based start-up firm, Worn Again Technologies, has announced that it has hit a £5 million investment target to support the commercialization of a new polymer recycling technology – “cracking the code on the circularity of raw materials for the global textiles and apparel industry,” as a press release puts it.
The patented approach is being offered as a solution to elements of the world’s plastic crisis and the growing problem of textile waste going to landfill. Its development follows six years of R&D.
CEO Cyndi Rhoades said, “There are enough textiles and plastic bottles ‘above ground’ and in circulation today to meet our annual demand for raw materials to make new clothing and textiles. With our dual polymer recycling technology, there will be no need to use virgin oil by-products to make new polyester and the industry will be able to radically decrease the amount of virgin cotton going into clothing by displacing it with new cellulose fibers recaptured from existing clothing.”
The process can separate, decontaminate and extract polyester polymers and cellulose (from cotton) from non-reusable textiles, as well as plastic bottles and packaging, to go back into new products as part of a repeatable process. The firm says: “The innovation cracks the code not only by being able to separate both polyester and cotton but also by being able to produce two end products that are both comparable in quality and have the aim of being competitive in price to virgin resources. The process saves energy and will accelerate us towards a waste-free, circular resource world.”
Currently, less than 1% of non-wearable textiles are turned back into new textiles due to technical and economic limitations of current recycling methods. Worn Again Technologies says it can reprocess pure and blended cotton and polyester textiles (together representing 80% of all clothing and textiles) meaning its solution offers the potential to increase the recycling of raw materials in textiles exponentially from the current 1%, with no price premium to manufacturers, brands or the consumer.
thumbnail courtesy of envirotecmagazine.com