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‘Sorting for Circularity’ report suggests recycling textiles to drastically reduce waste


Sorting for Circularity report suggests recycling textiles to drastically reduce waste

Amsterdam-based Fashion for Good is the world's first museum of sustainable fashion innovation that redesigns how fashion is made, worn, and reused through different fashion seasons. Through workshops and exhibitions, this global initiative constantly innovates fabrics and styles for a better way for the fashion industry to work together as a global community.

Sorting for Circularity Project to use waste intelligently

One of its recently concluded projects was the Sorting for Circularity Europe project, which in collaboration with Circle Economy, brought out a report that detailed the findings of a 16 month textile analysis. This report showed that around 74%, a total of 494,000 tonnes, of low-value, post-consumer textile waste is easily available for fiber-to-fiber recycling in six European countries. This points out the inherent potential to generate an additional €74 million per year, in value by reintroducing sorted and recycled textiles back into the value chain.

After the long Covid months, The Sorting for Circularity Europe Project was kick-started to decrease the knowledge gap with in-depth studies on which base investment decisions, policy developments, and the next steps towards circularity can be made. Also, the project focussed on more synchronization between the global sorting and recycling industry while creating a recycled market for discarded textiles to give a new life for earning a new income for sorters, recyclers, and textile brands.

Monetization through recycling waste

Even though some of the waste is reused, a necessary infrastructure to effectively recycle these textiles while understanding their material composition is needed. Fashion for Good’s report on the Sorting for Circularity Project brought together mega textile brands and industry leaders from across Europe who worked together to create a comprehensive textile waste analysis using more accurate, innovative Near Infrared (NIR) technology, along with analyzing the capabilities of various textile recyclers.

‘’As fiber-to-fiber textile recycling commitments and policies increase, as well as the amount of textile waste collected, the infrastructure required to drive the move towards circular systems requires significant investment to scale. To make informed investment decisions, as well as assess the business case for monetization through recycling, a deeper understanding of the characteristics of today's European post-consumer textiles landscape is needed. This project lays the knowledge foundation that will enable key players to set into motion.” says Katrin Ley, Managing Director at Fashion for Good

According to this textile report, the staple cotton was the most dominant fiber (42%), followed by a large presence of material blends (32%), almost half of which consisted of polycottons (12%).While focussing on the three main characteristics of material composition, the presence of disruptors, such as zippers and buttons, and color, it showed that just 21% of the materials under the microscope can be used for mechanical recycling. However, almost the remaining 53% could be processed for chemical recycling, which currently presents a huge opportunity for circularity, given that only 2% of post-consumer textiles are diverted to fiber-to-fiber recycling. The project brought together some of the largest industrial textile sorters across Europe such as the Boer Group, I:CO - part of SOEX Group, JMP Wilcox - part of Textile Recycling International, Modare-Cáritas, Wtórpol, and TEXAID.

Launched in early 2021, this long project finally divulged its findings which is expected to seriously monetize waste and help the textile industry reinvent itself after the dismal Covid years.


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