• Worn Again is preparing to accelerate its polymer recycling technology thanks to hitting its GBP5m funding target.
  • The firm says it can reprocess pure and blended cotton and polyester textiles (together representing 80% of all clothing and textiles) meaning its solution offers the potential to increase the recycling of raw materials in textiles.
Worn Again Technologies vision is to enable the circularity of raw materials

Worn Again Technologies' vision is to enable the circularity of raw materials

Worn Again Technologies, a British start-up developing polymer and cellulose recycling technology, is preparing to bring its patented innovation to market after hitting its GBP5m (US$6.6m) investment target.

The company, which was founded in 2005 and has the support of partners like H&M and Kering, says it is "cracking the code" on the circularity of raw materials for the global textiles and apparel industry.

"There are enough textiles and plastic bottles 'above ground' and in circulation today to meet our annual demand for raw materials to make new clothing and textiles," says CEO Cyndi Rhoades.

"With our dual polymer recycling technology, there will be no need to use virgin oil by-products to make new polyester and the industry will be able to radically decrease the amount of virgin cotton going into clothing by displacing it with new cellulose fibres recaptured from existing clothing."

The company has been working with partners and scientists to fast track its vision of solving part of the world's plastic crisis and the growing problem of textiles waste to landfill.

Worn Again Technologies' patented process can separate, decontaminate and extract polyester polymers and cellulose (from cotton) from non-reusable textiles, as well as plastic bottles and packaging, to go back into new products as part of a repeatable process.

The innovation not only separates both polyester and cotton but also produces two end products that are both comparable in quality and have the aim of being competitive in price to virgin resources.

The company says the process saves energy and will accelerate the industry towards a waste-free, circular resource world.

Currently, less than 1% of non-wearable textiles are turned back into new textiles due to technical and economic limitations of current recycling methods. Worn Again Technologies says it can reprocess pure and blended cotton and polyester textiles (together representing 80% of all clothing and textiles) meaning its solution offers the potential to increase the recycling of raw materials in textiles exponentially from the current 1%, with no price premium to manufacturers, brands or the consumer.

Cambridge PhD and Worn Again Technologies chief scientific officer, Dr. Adam Walker explains: "The solution to the world's plastics problem is not to stop using plastic altogether. We have a solution to address the burgeoning need for recycling non-rewearable textiles and plastics and we've been clamouring to get on with it for many years. This investment, combined with the increasing geopolitical awareness of the need for this technology, is enabling us to push through the scale-up and validation work to reach the market on an accelerated timescale."

Last month, Worn Again was awarded a grant to become the first chemical recycling technology to be Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified.

The catalyst for the investment was fashion retailer H&M, now joined by new partners including chemical engineering giant Sulzer Chemtech, Mexico garment manufacturer Himes Corporation, textiles producer Directex, and Miroslava Duma's Future Tech Lab.

The combined investment and support enables the optimisation phase of the technology in the lab as well as industrial trials, scaling and designing of the industrial process with Sulzer Chemtech. These steps will finalise developments to the point at which the technology is complete and ready for commercialisation.

Worn Again Technologies is currently enlisting local, national and global investors and strategic partners who want to be part of the rapid expansion plan as it prepares for the first industrial demonstration plant to be launched in 2021.