One of the significant obstacles to textile recycling is that the fabrics are often made from blended materials, which means that clothing fibres made up of mixed materials are not recyclable. The good news is that this significant problem might have been solved by groundbreaking innovation from Sweden’s deep forests. Promising to rescue the fashion industry, Södra, a significant forestry cooperative based in Växjö, Sweden, has come up with a unique solution that solves this fundamental obstacle to the textile industry. The pioneering solution makes it possible to recycle textiles on a large scale.
Using its resources and expertise for an innovative textile recycling solution, Södra breakthrough will enable large-scale textile recycling. This is an excellent achievement because presently, no one can recycle fibres from blended fabrics on a large scale, that is until Södra’s unique solution. Enabling circular flows in the fashion and textile industry, the company has also made it possible for collaborations between different industries to take place. “Södra also has aggressive sustainability targets. We are, therefore seeking companies with high sustainability ambitions that would like to partner with us in the delivery of textiles. That will determine both our start-up and future production capacity,” said Helena Claesson, Project Manager, Södra.
Södra’s Game-Changing Solution Explained
According to Lars Idermark, President and CEO of Södra, only a negligible proportion of the global production of clothing and textiles is recycled today. She says: “Virtually everything is sent to landfill or incineration. But Swedish innovation and a willingness to help mitigate climate change can now influence the game at a global level.” Södra recognises that one of the significant obstacles to textile recycling is that the fabrics are often made from blended materials. Which is why they have come up with a technique that can separate the cotton and polyester in the widely used polycotton blends. The pure cotton fibres are then added to our wood-derived textile pulp, which can then be used to make new textiles.
Explaining the process further, Johannes Bogren, President of Södra Cell Bioproducts shared: “We are now redrawing the map for the fashion and textile industry by offering circular flows of textile fibres. A sweater can now become a sweater again. This will create added value for our customers, and especially the fashion industry. It’s a big day for us and an equally big day for the emerging circular bio
Producing pulp, by adding 20 tonnes of used textiles, Södra can, at present, only accept white textiles. Looking to the future, their aim is to find a decolouring solution and also to investigate the possibility of extracting a stream of residual products from the polyester. For now, production will commence at a low rate of 30 tonnes this year, but the long- term target is to add 25,000 tonnes of textiles to the company’s pulp production.