One of the top ten manufacturing sectors in the EU, the textile industry produces around 12 million tonnes of waste a year. Much of this ends up in landfill with a significant percentage (18%) heading for incineration. The INPAT project seeks to use the waste as raw material in the production of sound insulating panels to be used in construction.
Where do old clothes go when they finally give up the ghost?
Ripped jeans may be ‘in’ but even the most hard core follower of fashion has to give up at some point eventually. Add those jeans to the mountains of other garments Europeans throw away every year and you are looking at a lot of raw material just waiting to be recycled.
The INPAT project has come up with an innovative use for textile waste: insulating panels for the construction industry. By using pure textile waste they can make panels that perform better than those being produced at the moment, both in terms of noise insulation and stability. In addition, they offer good thermal properties and are easy to install.
The production process uses high temperatures and pressure to produce a substance like felt which can then be coated to form panels.
The production line is able to valorise 45 000 kg/year of textile waste at the end of the project, corresponding to 150m3 waste/year diverted from landfill. The capacity of the production line is expected to increase in the 2 years following the completion of the project to up to 150 000 kg/year of textile waste. The fibres, which have been processed by the clothing sector, are estimated to cost 0.83€/kg to generate.
The project takes a full life-cycle approach, from the start of the recycling process to their eventual reuse when the panels are no longer needed. When the panels reach the end of their useful life they can be re-milled and used in similar applications, for example, within the car industry.
Photo © Inpat project