The circular economy will hit the textile industry like a tsunami
29-04-2018 in Circular Textiles
Danish companies Really and Kvadrat are determined to do something about end-of-life textile and post production textile waste. Meanwhile the chemical industry is working on solutions for recycling of plastic. The latter could hit the industry like a tsunami.
‘The most pertinent project I saw at Milano Design Week 2018.”
For the second year in a row, Really and Kvadrat were showcasing the possibilities of their “Solid Textile Board” during Milan Design Week. Design critic Chris Meplon personally nominated the project ‘The most pertinent project I saw at Milano Design Week 2018.” And she was not the only one.
Although awareness is growing, less than 10% of end of life textile is being recycled. The main reason lies in the fact that recycling textiles is harder than it seems. Mechanical recycling of natural fibres degenerates the quality of the yarns. It is costly and needs after treatment, like bleaching, that is often very harmful. Chemical recycling could hold the solution. But chemical recycling of blended or mixed synthetic yarns is only theoretically possible at the moment. The good news is that the chemical industry is determined to find a solution. Supported by Europe and other plastic consuming industries.
A tsunami of plastic could become a tsunami of recycles yarns
The plastic waste problem became so big that the only way out is to consequently pave the path towards a disruptive large-scale circular economy for plastic products. Most of the yarns used in textile industry are part of the plastic problem. The biggest problem is that they are not recyclable because they are not pure. Most yarns are made of a blend with natural yarns or other synthetic materials. Europe now supports a project to find a solution. And industries claim that they can do so. This would mean synthetic recycled yarns with the quality of pure virgan material could become available. The question is not 'if' but 'when'. And when this happens, industries will have to change their attitude toward sourcing materials. Not in the least because the demand will be driven by the conscient consumer. Knowing that textile industry is the second biggest polluter, we’d better be prepared.