Closed recycling loops have already been successfully established for some product and material groups. They are called cradle-to-cradle platforms because they not only lead from cradle to grave but also back to the cradle. The best known is the closed collection and recycling system for drinking bottles made of PET. Is it possible to establish something like this for the textile industry as well?
In order to provide an impetus in this direction, the bioeconomy platform has started a “textile recycling initiative” together with the consulting company accilium. In the first step, the current status of textile recycling in Austria will be ascertained and a comparison will be made with other economic areas. The stakeholders to be surveyed will include manufacturers, collectors and sorters of textiles as well as waste disposal companies. Rental textile companies will play a special role in this as they have more comprehensive control over the life cycle of the textile pieces and their quality at the time of disposal.
One of the biggest challenges for creating a closed loop system in the textile sector is that currently no such viable business model exists. At present, textiles are not collected by type. In addition, many mixed textiles (different types of fibers are also found in one item of clothing) are in circulation and trends such as “fast fashion” are increasing the amount of waste.
The survey should therefore determine which gaps currently exist and must be closed in order to establish a cradle-to-cradle platform. Tailwind comes from the social demand for a sustainable management of textile waste, which is directed at many companies.
The results of the study based on the survey were presented at the Global Fiber Congress in Dornbirn. They provide an overview of the interests of the companies active in the textile industry and show the existing know-how on the subject of textile recycling. This will serve to identify potential partners for the “textile recycling initiative”.