A new frontier in Chemical Recycling

With the aim to investigate economically viable and scalable solutions for cellulosic chemical recycling to enable a closed-loop system converting textile waste – of cotton and cotton-blend materials, to produce new man-made cellulosic fibres, on 10th September, Fashion for Good the global initiative set to make all fashion good launched the Full Circle Textiles Project: Scaling Innovations in Cellulosic Recycling, a first of its kind consortium project.

Focusing on cellulosic fibres, this Project aims to validate and eventually, scale promising technologies in chemical recycling from a select group of innovators as 73% of the clothing we produce is sent to landfill or is incinerated and of all new clothing made, less than 1% of the material used comes from recycled sources.

Leading global organisations Laudes Foundation, Birla Cellulose, Kering, PVH Corp. and Target join the Fashion for Good initiated project, to explore the disruptive solutions, with the goal of creating new fibres and garments from used clothing and ultimately drive industry-wide adoption.

“A bold approach is needed to identify and scale innovations that drive sustainable change in the fashion industry. The unique, first-of-its-kind structure of this committed, multi-stakeholder consortium, addresses some of the key barriers to scaling innovation, setting the precedent for all industry players with ambitions for disruptive innovation to follow.”Katrin Ley, Managing Director, Fashion for Good.

Over an 18-month period, project partners will collaborate with innovators, Evrnu, Infinited Fiber Company, Phoenxt, Renewcell and Tyton BioSciences, to validate the potential of their technologies in this still nascent market. The recycled content produced by four of these innovators will be converted at Birla Cellulose’s state of the art pilot plants to produce high-quality cellulosic fibres. From there, fibres will move through the project partners supply chains to be manufactured into garments.

Textile recycling is a key focus for Fashion for Good as a crucial lever in driving the fashion industry towards closed-loop production. A systemic change towards circularity will ultimately reduce the environmental impact of textile waste and potentially eliminate our dependence on virgin materials entirely. Furthermore, producing man-made cellulosic fibres through chemical recycling can help preserve ancient and endangered forests. Scalable solutions in high-quality textile recycling technologies are therefore urgently needed.

Mobilising an industry

“Financing the Transformation in the Fashion Industry” details further actions required to scale sustainable solutions including a concerted, industry-wide effort to provide the incentives, financial means and focus to accelerate the transformation to sustainable and circular practices. Thus, through this project and its consortium, Fashion for Good hopes to inspire other stakeholders to follow suit in supporting chemical recycling innovators to trial and ultimately secure offtake, catalysing the transformation to a truly circular economy.