By Vikas Vij — The global textile industry is valued at over $1 trillion, ranking as the second largest industry in terms of intensity of trade. Textiles are also the fastest growing sector in household waste. Discounting and low retail prices over the last two decades have led to a dramatic increase in the consumption of clothing, with a resultant rise in textile waste from the consumer. More than three million tons of textiles are thrown away each year in the EU alone.
To address this growing challenge of textile waste, VTT Technical Research Center of Finland and Aalto University are participating in an EU project called Trash-2-Cash. The project brings together designers, researchers, materials suppliers and textile manufacturers from all over Europe to solve the problem by recycling and development of high-performance fibers.
The Trash-2-Cash project team, which includes experts from all levels of the production chain, is looking to develop techniques that can be used to spin, knit, sew or design innovative, highquality products from used textile fibers. Thetechniques for pre-processing and washing waste textiles, separating fibers, and fiberization are designed to be eco-friendly and efficient.
The role of VTT is to focus on breaking down the fibers in waste textiles and making them suitable for the cellulose carbamate process. The Ioncell cellulose fiber manufacturing process will be carried out at the Aalto University. The Ioncell-F process has proved to be particularly suitable for the recycling of cellulose waste.
Designers play an important role in the project to ensure the quality, performance and appearance of the new products appeal to consumers. The aim is to find new markets and uses for recycled textile fibers. Demo products will be manufactured together with commercial partners throughout the project.
The Trash-2-Cash project is part of the EU’s Horizon 2020 program, and will run from 2015 until 2018. The total budget is EUR 8.9 million, of which EU funding accounts for EUR 7.9 million. The project team includes 18 organizations from 10 EU countries. The project is coordinated by SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden. In addition to VTT and Aalto University, Finnish participants include the children’s clothing manufacturer Reima.