After three years of research, ReSuit says it has created two new recycling processes for polyester textiles, which are said to account for half of all clothing waste globally.
The first new process opens the door for textile-to-textile recycling of polyester. The dissolution method separates polyester from colour and additives, resulting in a recycled polyester of quality high enough to be used in the production of new textiles.
The second process developed by ReSuit focuses on complex clothing waste usually considered too intricate and processed to be recycled.
The new method subjects clothing waste to a process of heat and pressure, known as hydrothermal liquefaction. This transforms the waste into bio-oil that can be upgraded into chemical building blocks for fuel and naphtha production.
The polyester component of the mixed clothing waste is transformed into a substance called terephthalic acid, which is a primary building block in polyester production.
The development comes shortly after the apparel sector was urged to create a solid fibre-to-fibre recycled PET polyester industry.
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The ReSuit project is led by the Danish Technological Institute alongside clothing company Bestseller, commercial laundry company Elis Denmark, environmental consultancy Behave Green and Design School Kolding. The project also benefits from insight from recycling experts at Aarhus University and German researcher Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. It is supported by Innovation Fund Denmark.
Bestseller says the ReSuit project has also led to the creation of its Circular Design Guide, which aims to inspire the conglomerate’s brands – as well as the wider textiles industry. The company says its brands are now selling clothing according to the principles within the guide.
Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen, innovation manager at Bestseller, said: “At Bestseller, we are fully aware of the challenges in the fashion industry, but we also have the size and expertise to be part of the solution. That’s why we entered ReSuit with open eyes and an understanding that innovation plays a crucial role in transforming the fashion industry into a more sustainable one.
“Innovation is best when it collaborates with other actors. Therefore, ReSuit is a unique project that takes a holistic approach to the problem by considering all stages of the clothing lifecycle—from design to usage and recycling. This focus on the entire process is crucial for creating a more sustainable future in the fashion industry.”