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The T-REX Project (Textile Recycling Excellence) is working with fashion manufacturing companies and brands, including sports brand adidas and innovation programme Fashion for Good, to create a harmonised EU blueprint for closed-loop sorting, and recycling of household textile and fashion waste.

The three-year project wants to transform end-of-use textiles, from waste, into the desired feedstock, and a commodity for new business models that can be adopted at scale given that the Fashion for Good and Circle Economy’s ‘Sorting for Circularity Europe’ October 2022 report suggests only 2% of post-consumer European textiles are currently being diverted to fibre-to-fibre recycling.

Over a three-year period, the T-REX Project will collect and sort household textile waste and demonstrate the full recycling process of polyester, polyamide 6, and cellulosic materials from textile waste into new garments. At the same time, the project will demonstrate sustainable and economically feasible business models for each actor along the value chain, conduct lifecycle analysis of the circular process, integrate digital tools that streamline the process of closed-loop textile recycling, and produce circular design guidelines.

The project hopes to provide an understanding and identify the infrastructure, technology and policy needed to encourage the growth of circular value chains in the textile and fashion industry. The partners will work towards developing a systematic approach to addressing the problem of textile waste, resource preservation and reduction of the environmental footprint of the fashion industry.

The T-REX Project explains that creating a circular system for post-consumer textile waste currently faces many challenges, including a lack of standards for collecting and sorting textile waste across countries, inaccurate composition claims, uneven quality of materials, and a lack of reliable data across value chain stakeholders.

It hopes to increase knowledge on the systemic change required to scale fibre-to-fibre recycling, adding to previous studies that include the Fashion for Good and
Circle Economy’s ‘Sorting for Circularity Europe’ Report, which showed 74% of low value, post-consumer textiles are readily available for fibre-to-fibre recycling in six European countries. The T-REX Project believes this finding offers an immense opportunity to accelerate textile recycling, but still requires an integrated approach to
deliver for scale.

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By GlobalData

Earlier this year McKinsey & Co published a report that suggested almost three-quarters of textile waste could be recycled in Europe by 2030, creating fresh opportunities for the apparel sector.

The 12 consortium players aiding the the household fashion, textile waste recycling project across the EU

The 12 consortium players in the project are:

  • Finland’s Aalto University
  • Sports brand Adidas
  • Science start-up Arapaha
  • Chemistry company BASF
  • Recycling innovation company, CuRE Technology
  • Sustainable fashion and innovation company, Fashion for Good
  • Germany’s Friedrich-Alexander-University Erlangen-Nuremberg (FAU)
  • Circularity materials company, Infinited Fiber Company
  • Yarn, greige fabric company, Linz Textil
  • Global sustainability consultancy, Quantis
  • Filament yarns integrated producer and specialist, TWD Fibres
  • Ecological transformation benchmark company Veolia

How the cross-industry players will work together during the project

Veolia will lead the post-consumer textile waste collection, sorting, and division to work with the feedstock needs of the respective textile recycling technologies of Infinited Fiber Company, BASF, and CuRe.

The recycled fibres will be converted to yarn by European manufacturers Linz Textil and TWD Fibres, from which Adidas will create demonstration products with end-of-life in mind.

FAU will support the project with analytical expertise to maximise the conversion of multi-fibre textile waste into recycled fibre, and Aalto University will conduct citizens’ engagement activities to raise awareness of textile recycling practices and analyse social impact.

Fashion for Good will lead industry communications, and conduct business viability and digital integration activities, supported by Quantis and Arapaha who will collect and analyse data from across the value chain for sustainability assessments and digital solution recommendations.

The project ultimately aims to contribute to a paradigm shift through understanding and identifying the infrastructure, technology, and policy needed to encourage the growth of circular value chains. It will work towards developing a systemic approach to addressing the problem of textile waste, whilst also assessing how to empower citizens to actively engage and contribute towards building a holistic solution to one of fashion’s biggest sustainability challenges.