The Fibersort is a technology able to automatically sort large volumes of mixed post-consumer textiles based on fiber composition. These sorted materials are perfectly suited to become inputs for textile recycling processes, and commercialisation of the Fibersort will bring closed-loop textiles one step closer to reality.
A solution for the growing textile waste problem
In North-West Europe alone, 4650 Kt of textiles are discarded every year. That is the equivalent of 600.000 elephants! Of these discarded textiles a meagre 30% is collected. Nearly half of these items are not suitable for re-wear and are currently downcycled, landfilled or incinerated. The Fibersort gives them a chance to become inputs for textile-to-textile recycling.
The Fibersort technology is uniquely positioned to deliver two things. First, it reduces the need for virgin textile materials by providing feedstock more efficiently for textile-to-textile recycling. This will alleviate the environmental pressure of producing virgin materials. Second, it creates additional market value and business opportunities by making it economically feasible to sort textile excess (waste).
Simon Smedinga, Operational Director of Salvation Army ReShare says: “The Fibersort machine offers a breakthrough that allows us to close the loop in textiles. The project partners have shown dedication and idealism and show that through chain collaboration a lot can be achieved. I am convinced that the Fibersort machine will bring the textiles industry big steps closer towards a closed looped system. ”
Getting the Fibersort technology ready for commercialization
This technology must be commercially viable to help transform waste into new resources. The Fibersort project partners Circle Economy, Valvan Baling Systems, Reshare, Procotex, Worn Again, and Smart Fibersorting are working with industry stakeholders to better understand end-markets for sorted textiles, optimise the machine and validate the business case. In September of 2019, the consortium will launch a commercially viable Fibersort process into the market and release reports to support the growth of this pivotal technology over time.
Cyndi Rhoades CEO of high-value recycler Worn Again says: “The Fibersort will enable suppliers of post-consumer textiles to meet the feedstock specification for our process more efficiently than today’s sorting methods. The first results of the Fibersort are looking very promising. We are very optimistic that this innovation will help to provide advanced sorting capabilities for the new generation of textile to textile recycling technologies like ours and help the industry on its way to circularity.”
The Fibersort in Action
On the 14th of March the Fibersort consortium extended an open invitation to the industry to come and see the Fibersort in action during a Demo Day. Performance information was shared with the industry for the first time, because the consortium knows that opening their doors and welcoming feedback and insight from the market is the best way to create lasting industry transformation. During Fibersort Demo Day the project partners also hosted workshops designed to increase attendees’ understanding of the systemic issues around recycled textiles and collect valuable insights for the project.