Back to the future
The “Blend Re:wind” project, from the interdisciplinary research initiative Mistra Future Fashion, was created in 2011 by three partners: Chalmers University of Technology, the RISE Research Institute of Sweden, and the international forest-industry group Södra in Sweden. For six years, under the direction of researchers Dr. Hanna de la Motte and Dr. Anna Palme, the search went on for a possible means of recycling textile fibres.
Recycling textiles while retaining their quality characteristics is a complex task. For a piece of clothing consists mostly of various materials, which must be separated again from each other. With its Blend Re:wind process Mistra Future Fashion has succeeded in separating cotton and polyester in such a way that they can be recycled for the manufacture of new textiles, without needing to accept any loss in point of quality. The cotton can be recycled into viscose, while the polyester component can be given a new function as a durable polyester.
At the moment the recycling of textile products back to textile surfaces is more or less non-existent world-wide. The majority of discarded clothing is destroyed or tipped into dumps, though the industry would actually have a great demand for sustainable materials. Thus, textile waste is an unutilised resource. Blend Re:wind is based on water and low-cost chemicals, which are already used in viscose production. Thus, the process is sustainable and simple to incorporate in the textile industry’s value-added chain, which makes it a pioneering approach for the future of textile recycling.
So far, the chemical process has only been carried out in the laboratory and not yet incorporated into commercial production. In the near future, however, the process will be applied in the textile value-added chain and serve as a sustainable source of new textiles.
Back to the future