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July 15, 2022

Accelerating Circularity kickstarts polyester recycling trial

Nonprofit Accelerating Circularity that creates new supply chains and business models to turn textile waste into mainstream raw materials has started polyester recycling trials.

By Hannah Abdulla

The trial, “Accelerating Circularity Europe,” looks to bring post-consumer polyester waste back into textile manufacturing.

The first trials will focus on post-consumer and post-industrial polyester textiles feedstocks. These will be the sources for both mechanically and chemically recycled fibres. 

“According to the EU Commission Strategy, by 2030 textile products placed on the EU market will be long-lived and recyclable, and to a great extent made of recycled fibres,” says Karla Magruder, Accelerating Circularity founder and president.

“The circular textiles ecosystem will be thriving, driven by sufficient capacities for innovative fibre-to-fibre recycling, while the incineration and landfilling of textiles will be reduced to the minimum. Accelerating Circularity Europe trials are completely aligned with this strategy.”

“Our work has been based on collaborative efforts of more than 80 members of our working groups representing all levels of the value chain from the EU-27 plus members from Norway, Switzerland, UK, Morocco, and Turkey,“ Magruder adds. “Our goal with the textile-to-textile polyester trials is to demonstrate circular systems at scale so our participants will be able to really demonstrate the feasibility.”

Accelerating Circularity Europe system trials for polyester include these partners among others: Amazon, Antex, Avery Dennison, Brav, Covation Biomaterials, Craghoppers, Elis Textil Service, Enviu, Erema Group, European Outdoor Group, Eurotex, GIZ / Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, Gr3n, Jack Wolfskin, Oberalp, Recyclatex Group, Reverse Resources, Sympatex, Texaid, Vaude, WWF, and Zalando.

In addition to the polyester trials, Accelerating Circularity Europe is planning a range of cellulosic trials of mechanically and chemically recycled cotton for circular knits and woven items with their partners of Recover, Lenzing (Refibra), Inditex, Tomra among many others from the value chain.

Martin Böschen, CEO, Texaid, adds: “To scale textile-to-textile recycling using post-consumer textile waste, we need collaboration to develop the corresponding value chains and the business case. With our participation in the Accelerating Circularity Europe trials, we want to help develop these systems and enable products to be produced with raw materials coming from post-consumer textile waste.”

Dr. Martin Mayershofer, R&D at Sympatex, Focus Closing the Loop explains: “To effectively close the loop of textile waste, at least national or even better international collection systems and infrastructures for end-of-life textiles have to be established. From an economic and efficiency perspective, but also from a consumer acceptance point of view, brand-specific return systems only, will not be sufficient. Accelerating Circularity Europe systems trials for polyester will bring various players of a future circular textile value chain together to test and validate polyester fibre-to-fibre recycling at scale, here in Europe, and thus perfectly fulfil these requirements.”

He adds: “At Sympatex, we believe, an industry-wide common pursuit of circularity and reclosing the textile loop together are indispensable.”

Regina Goller, director fabric and trim management apparel for Jack Wolfskin highlights: “Accelerating Circularity Europe has brought together the top minds in the European design and textile markets to develop real, achievable solutions that will sustainably change the apparel industry for the better.”

She concludes: “True circularity will give synthetic fabrics that are essential for performance, comfort and protection multiple lives with minimal impact on the environment. Design for sustainability has been a driving force for Jack Wolfskin for decades. By collaborating with our peers in the industry, together we will be able to create optimal systems and implement them throughout the marketplace.”

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