Waste not, want not: making new materials from waste

The textile industry generates enormous amounts of waste and is one of the largest consumers of water and energy resources. EU-funded research is looking at ways to reduce its ecological impact by using textile waste and design to develop new materials for the future.

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Bosnia and Herzegovina
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czechia
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 15 November 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
EnergyRational energy use
EnvironmentClean technology and recycling  |  Sustainable development
Industrial researchMaterials & products
Information societyInformation technology
Innovation
International cooperation
Research policyHorizon 2020
Science in societyFuture science & technology
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Denmark  |  Finland  |  Germany  |  Italy  |  Netherlands  |  Slovenia  |  Spain  |  Sweden  |  Turkey  |  United Kingdom
Add to PDF "basket"

Waste not, want not: making new materials from waste

Photo of a baby wearing reclaimed textile

© Reima Oy / Johanna Levomäki, Studio Skaala

It is estimated that over 3 million tonnes of textile waste is discarded every year in the European Union. As well as energy and water, the textile industry is a major consumer of raw materials. Therefore, it is necessary to find urgent solutions for reducing waste in this sector and making better use of available resources as part of the EU’s transition towards a more circular economy.

The EU-funded TRASH-2-CASH project brought together a transdisciplinary team from 10 European countries to take a fresh look at the potential of recycling in this sector. The goal was to use design to produce innovative, high-end materials which could contribute to creating a circular, low-waste production cycle.

‘We have been working with a new methodology, design-driven material innovation (DDMI) that has allowed us to create a unique collaboration between designers, scientists and manufacturers,’ explains Emma Östmark, project coordinator. ‘This has enabled us to develop innovative state-of-the-art fibre-recycling methods to create new high-performance fibres with multiple possible applications.’

Innovation in the loop

By combining the unique skills of designers, scientists and producers, the project also developed a methodology through which the environmental performance of materials is integrated into the production process right from the start of the process, and the end-user is always kept in mind.

The new materials produced as a result of TRASH-2-CASH are not only made from waste but are also created to be used appropriately and fully before re-entering the recycling process, thereby creating a closed loop. ‘In this scenario, the material life cycle is no longer cradle to grave, but cradle to cradle to cradle,’ notes Östmark.

At a scientific level, the project has shifted the focus from mechanical to chemical recycling enabling the manufacture of higher-quality materials with a wider scope for their use – from textiles and plastics for the interiors of cars to high-fashion garments.

TRASH-2-CASH has explored three emerging chemical recycling processes that relate primarily to cotton and polyester, which make up 80 % of fibres used globally. During the regeneration of cellulose to obtain Ioncell-F (CL) fibres, paper and cotton textile waste are converted into upcycled high-quality, high-end fibre. The de-repolymerisation process is applied to obtain recycled polyester (r-PET) fibres; while the melt mixing procedure produces r-PET pellets.

Furthermore, the project team is proposing a new model whereby textile waste is recycled chemically to produce fabrics that are of the same quality as new materials and are used in the manufacture of materials that are industrially replicable and infinitely recyclable. Having provided proof of concept, through six ‘master cases’, the next step is for the project results to be scaled up to an industrial level and put into practice.

Finally, TRASH-2-CASH has also pioneered a whole new approach to developing recyclable materials that clearly demonstrates the advantages of creative designers working closely with science and industry to create sustainable change and innovation.

Project details

  • Project acronym: TRASH-2-CASH
  • Participants: Sweden (Coordinator), Italy, Germany, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Finland, Spain, Denmark, Slovenia, Turkey
  • Project N°: 646226
  • Total costs: € 8 928 994
  • EU contribution: € 7 933 461
  • Duration: June 2015 to November 2018

See also

 

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also
Project website
Project details