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Eliminating elastanes in polyester blends

New processing agent swells the PU elastane fibres, breaks the chemical bonds and dissolves them.

11th April 2023

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Japan

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Teijin Frontier, the Japanese Teijin Group’s fibres and products converting company, has developed a new technology to eliminate polyurethane (PU) elastane fibres from discarded polyester apparel.

A new processing agent is used during the pretreatment phase of the chemical recycling process, which helps improve the quality of the recycled polyester fibre. In addition to removing the elastane fibre, the new technology eliminates foreign materials such as dyes.

Teijin Frontier has been conducting tests of this new technology since October 2022.

 As part of its initiative focused on polyester, the company is working with the supply chain to establish a comprehensive ecosystem spanning apparel collection, sorting and recycling. Teijin Frontier is confident that its new foreign material removal method can help expand the scope of fibre-to-fibre recycling.

The new technology swells the PU elastane fibres, breaks their chemical bonds and dissolves them. For system cost control and environmental load reduction, the processing agent can be collected and reused. Recycled polyester materials generated by this method can be used in the existing chemical recycling process.

Stretchable polyester clothing containing PU elastane is becoming popular as the demand in the industry for quick-drying, wrinkle-resistant and comfortable-to-wear garments increases. Conventional chemical recycling technology, however, works best with 100% polyester products and the quality of the recycled product deteriorates when elastanes are included in the blend.

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