Concerns surrounding textile waste have been growing in recent years, with the high turnover rate of clothing attracting both public and governmental attention. This has led to a spotlight being placed on textile waste, especially in regards to what happens to it once it reaches the end of its life cycle.
In an attempt to tackle this issue and help move to a ‘circular textile economy’, Cole Fabrics have developed a ribbon made from recycled polyester textiles. The textiles to produce this ribbon are collected from garment cutting room floors from around China (pre-consumer waste) and clothing deposited at collection points in public service buildings (e.g. police stations and schools) where the uniforms are made from 100% polyester (post-consumer waste).
The collected garments are processed to remove any zips, buttons or other trims. The garments and off cut textiles are then shredded and passed through a heat tunnel, which slightly melts the polyester into dense balls to enable them to easily flow through the process. The chemical process then depolymerises the polyester back into its chemical building blocks. This allows contaminants, such as dyes, to be removed. This mixture of dyes and residual chemical waste are flammable and are sold on as a commodity.
At this point the chemical building blocks are repolymerised to form a near virgin quality polyester which is extruded into chips. These chips are then stored until required for melting, extruding and weaving into our recycled polyester ribbon.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
End of Life
This ribbon is designed for the circular economy.
This ribbon was made from chemically recycled polyester and can be chemically recycled at end of life. The UK waste management system does not currently operate household textile collections but great work is currently being done, by such companies as Worn Again technologies, to scale up this technology in the UK.