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Sustainable recycling process for used textiles

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Laura Kunze Projektleitung INTERREG

The mountains of old clothes are growing. Every year, 750,000 tons of old clothes are collected in Germany alone, plus additional quantities of new, unsold goods. So far, it has not been possible to completely recycle them, so that a large proportion of the textiles are still incinerated. So far, only single-variety waste such as shredded wool, PET bottles or plastic waste from the oceans has been used to produce recycled yarns. A large part of the textile waste, however, consists of fiber and raw material blends (like a pullover made of 70 percent cotton and 30 precent polyester), so that these cannot be recycled by type after use, but can only be thermally recycled.

Our goal is to recycle and reuse 100 percent of the textiles in the future. For this reason, an INTERREG-funded project has been created under the direction of imat-uve, which is being implemented with the project partners Texperium, C2C Expo Lab, FB Basic and Trützschler. Laura Kunze from imat-uve will take over the project management. She has been with the company since June 2019 as a textile design engineer responsible for textile development topics and will lead the mixed fibre recycling project to its planned end in 2021. She will mainly be responsible for managing the partners in accordance with the milestones and project objectives as well as drawing up the test plans.

In preliminary tests and projects by Texperium and imat-uve, it has already been possible to produce yarns from up to 100 percent recycled mixed fibers with the aid of coarse presorting and modification of a spinning process. In initial laboratory tests of sample fabrics made from these yarns, increased requirements have already been met, for example for use in the automotive industry.

This project is also funded by INTERREG because it is intended to establish the textile industry in the border region Germany-Netherlands as a global pioneer in the field of mixed fiber recycling and textile Recycling.

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