Sustainability Framework

Pre and post-consumer LYCRA® fiber recycling

Saal B
Mittwoch, 11.09.2024, 15:55 - 16:20 Uhr

Spandex is often seen as a contaminant in textile recycling. The LYCRA Company commits to provide tangible circularity solutions and change this narrative by developing new spandex recycling technologies making recycled LYCRA® fibers from end of life stretch fabrics. This work describes our journey in the development of solutions to promote spandex recycling technologies to allow The LYCRA Company and partners to reclaim both pre- and post-consumer waste made with LYCRA® elastane and transform it into recycled spandex.

Alberto Ceria (The LYCRA Company)
While the textile industry is looking to rapidly develop pathways for a circular economy, The LYCRA Company’s commitment is to provide a variety of sustainable solutions for spandex fiber that can help advance end of life garment recyclability to reduce fiber waste in landfills and support circularity. LYCRA® fibers are crucial ingredients to deliver essential stretch and comfort performance benefits in several apparel applications. For this reason, it can be found blended with different hard fibers such as polyamide, polyester and cotton in ranges varying from few percent as high as 40%. This market increases the degree of complexity when it comes to sorting and recycling. The three key technological steps to create a pathway to circularity and achieve notable recycling rates are: (1) understanding the initial spandex chemistry, (2) separating spandex from the hard fiber without damages to the spandex fiber and (3) developing a suitable spandex recycling process that can be scaled. Most fabric recycling processes predominantly focus on the recovery of the hard yarn. However, it is key to complete the cycle by achieving process(es) that can not only separate the hard yarn and the spandex fiber, but also provide a viable feedstock for re-spinning of the spandex fiber. Once LYCRA® fiber is successfully separated, our proprietary recycling technology can transform it into recycled LYCRA® fiber with characteristics comparable to the virgin product, bringing forward key initial steps into the journey of circularity.