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EU support for recycling at scale

Proposed solution will allow the handling of a wide variety of complex post-consumer coloured textiles.

26th June 2023

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Mörrum, Sweden

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

EU LIFE has granted €10 million to a project to scale up OnceMore – an industrial-scale system for the recycling of blended textile waste developed by Swedish Forest industry group Södra and Austria’s Lenzing.

The LIFE TREATS (Textile Recycling in Europe at Scale) project will see a scaling up of the OnceMore process at Södra’s mill in Mörrum, Sweden, as well as joint process development.

The plant will combine 50% recycled content with 50% renewable wood from sustainable family forestry in Sweden and will be capable of processing 50,000 tons per year of blended post-consumer textile waste, containing different colours and materials, to produce 60,000 tons per year of textile pulp.

The proposed solution will allow the handling of a wide variety of complex post-consumer coloured textiles containing a mix of cotton, polyester and other components including elastane. The project will begin in the third quarter of 2023 and continue for four years.

LIFE is administered through the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA).

The project stands to make a significant contribution to the EU Circular Economy Action Plan by diverting large volumes of coloured, blended textile waste from downcycling, landfill or incineration. It involves stakeholders throughout the textile circular value chain – from raw materials through manufacturing, distribution, collection and recycling.

“With the help of this significant funding, Södra and Lenzing are ready to provide one of the main solutions in terms of chemical recycling and become an enabler for the circular textile economy,” said OnceMore by Södra manager Åsa Degerman. “While highly-developed systems for the collection and sorting of used textiles exist within Europe, they are mainly dedicated to the second-hand business. Upcoming legislation such as the EU’s Waste Framework Directive, extended user responsibility (EPR), the decline in second-hand export markets and an observed reduction in the quality of collected textiles all point to significant changes in the textile-waste handling environment.”

“As the first project of its kind at large scale, LIFE TREATS will open new circular business opportunities and increase the proportion of recycled fibres used in new clothing,” added Sonja Zak, head of textile sourcing and cooperations at Lenzing Group. “Addressing the textile waste problem requires a systematic approach alongside industrial-scale technological solutions. The LIFE TREATS project is therefore establishing an integrated approach to enable real change. Sourcing will only focus on textiles that cannot be reused in any other way, to give valuable fibre resources a high-quality second life and prevent downcycling, landfill or incineration.”

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