“While there is hunger for a solution to textile waste, designing it out of the system will not happen without consumer involvement and incentives, one will be around the perceived value of clothing, not necessarily of the garments themselves, but of the resources they represent. This will be the incentive for retailers, because for how long is a business model based on depleting virgin resources really sustainable?” (C.Rhoades, New York Times)
H&M, Kering and innovation company Worn Again join forces to make the continual recycling of textiles a sustainable reality.
In 2014, the global production of polyester filament and cotton fibre was approximately 65 million tonnes. In 2020, the global demand for these fibres is estimated to be 90 million tonnes.
To address this, and the growing issue of clothes-to-landfill, Worn Again’s textile-to-textile chemical recycling technology is the first of its kind able to separate and extract polyester and cotton from old or end-of-use clothing and textiles. Once separated, the aim is for this unique process to enable the ‘recaptured’ polyester and cellulose from cotton to be spun into new fabric creating a ‘circular resource model’ for textiles. In simple terms, a t-shirt’s linear life span (where it’s made, worn, thrown away and left to live in landfill sites) could be made circular.
The process will not only provide a much greener means of sourcing raw materials for fabrics, but solve the problem of separating blended fibre garments and removing dyes from polyester and cellulose.
Cyndi Rhoades, Worn Again’s CEO, said the new technology was part of a “global vision“, one she hopes will “keep clothing already in circulation out of landfill” and instead make it “part of a global pool of resources to be used time and time again”.
Once the technology is ready, the plan is for H&M and Kering’s sports brand Puma to test its commercial viability. Anna Gedda, the head of sustainability at H&M, said: “In the long-run this can change the way fashion is made and massively reduce the need for extracting virgin resources from our planet.”
Worn Again is a UK based innovation business with a radical vision to eradicate textile waste from the global apparel and textile industry with technology designed as part of a circular resource model. Established in 2005 in East London, Worn Again began as a Business to Consumer ‘upcycling’ company, turning textile waste into new products of higher value.
From 2007 to present, WA evolved into a Business to Business consultancy and went on to work with large brands on a series of groundbreaking products and zero textile waste projects, including Virgin Atlantic, Eurostar, Royal Mail, Virgin Balloon Flights, Marks & Spencer, National Grid and McDonald’s.