Aims of the project:

  • Promote sustainable development through increased circularity of textiles; 500 000 tons (1990) -> 750 000 tons (2026)
  • Increase availability of raw materials for textile producers; +20% from 2019 to 2026
  • Automated textile sorting capacity established in Europe; 125 000 tons by 2026
  • Functioning markets for recycled products from automated textile sorting; profitable industry by 2026
  • An ecosystem of actors who work up and use recycled materials from automated textile sorting established
  • Public policies promoting circularity of textiles and strategies for risk free use of recycled textiles adopted in three countries by 2026

Outline of the Project:

  • Automated textile sorting using near-infrared and visual spectroscopy
  • Sort mixed textile wastes according to fiber composition and color matching market demands
  • Fiber-to-fiber recycling and creating functioning markets for high-quality recycling products
  • Phase 3 will see the development of, an industrial scale facility in Malmö
  • Partners include IKEA, H&M, Gina Tricot, City of Malmö, Berendsen and City of Gothenburg.

What stage is the initiative currently at?

  • A pilot facility operated for the period 2016-2018
  • A network of stakeholders has been established
  • Public information campaigns have been carried out
  • Sysav, the publicly owned South Scania Waste Company, has taken the decision to invest in an industrial scale facility
  • Operations are planned to start in the summer of 2020 with a yearly capacity of 16,000 tons and seven operators in two shifts

Key learnings:

  • It can be done!
  • Need to include both ends of the value-chain
  • Public companies can take lead

Key challenges:

  • Infrastructure, such as collection bins, needs to change
  • Consumer behaviour; it’s a big difference leaving your old milk containers or your old underwear!
  • Pre-sorting; for the consumer the best solution is to throw everything in the same bin, both textiles to be recycled and textiles to be reused. Pre-sorting is still manual

Project details:

Organisation:IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, Sysav South Scania Waste Company

Funding:  Sweden’s innovation agency, Vinnova

How long has the project been operational: A pilot started 2016, operations are due to commence summer 2020.

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