Article written by Hildegard Suntinger for Innovation Origins.
Recycled fibers are already used in the clothing industry, but mainly those made from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) obtained from beverage bottles, among other things. Around three-quarters of the granulate produced from used PET bottles is utilized by fiber manufacturers, according to Dr. Andreas Bartl of the Particle Technology, Recycling Technology and Technology Assessment Research Group at the Vienna University of Technology, Austria. In contrast, recycled textiles account for only one percent! (Source: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017). The circular economy is failing because recycling textile fibers is more expensive than producing new ones.
Bartl conducts research with his colleagues Emanuel Boschmeier and Wolfgang Ipsmiller in the EU project SCIRT (System Circularity & Innovative Recycling of Textiles). In a consortium with 18 research partners from five countries, they aim to overcome barriers to textile recycling to create a true, sustainable circular fashion economy.