High-Quality Products from Used Textiles: Approaches for a Circular Economy

Saal Bira
Donnerstag, 14.09.2023, 15:10 - 15:35 Uhr
Björn Schulz, Re-Fresh Global, Berlin (GER)

We all have a problem: the textile industry is the world's second biggest polluter. Out of 92 million tonnes of textiles annually, less than one per cent is currently recycled, while 85 per cent become waste. In pursuit of a sustainable future, the concept of a circular economy has gained significant attention, especially in the context of solving the textile industry's waste problems. This paper presents current innovative industrial-relevant approaches to transform textile waste into high value products through white biotechnology processes, thereby contributing to a circular economy. The study examines the conversion of textile waste into three valuable resources: bioethanol, nanocellulose and thermoplastic textile material. The production process involves enzymatic hydrolysis and fermentation of celluloses and hemicelluloses extracted from used textile mixtures. The final sustainable bioethanol can be integrated into various applications, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting environmental sustainability. Through mechanical and chemical processes, the thermoplastic residues are converted into high performance thermoplastics, which are used in the manufacture of new composite products, thus closing the textile life cycle loop. Nanocellulose is the process output with the highest added value. The integration of these approaches not only helps to reduce waste, but is also in line with the principles of a circular economy. The potential environmental benefits, including reduced carbon emissions and minimised resource consumption, underline the importance of our strategies in promoting sustainability and environmental responsibility.