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Milliken trials with Accelerating Circularity

Company’s commitment provides the ability to “fail fast and adjust”.

8th June 2022

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Spartanburg, SC, USA

Sustainable, Sports/​Outdoor

The textile business of Milliken and Company, based in Spartanburg, South Carlolina, has announced its participation in two commercial textile-to-textile US product trials with Accelerating Circularity.

 Serving as the fabric manufacturer in both trials, Milliken will develop two separate garments – a polyester Polartec fleece and a cotton/polyester twill –that will be manufactured at scale.

The Polartec fleece trial will use chemically recycled textiles made possible by Gr3n Recycling while the cotton/polyester twill trial will feature a mechanical recycling process. Milliken will use Unifi fibre to develop and manufacture the fabrics used in both trials.

Building on the success of its work in researching, mapping, modelling and linking circular textile-to-textile systems, Accelerating Circularity is now moving to its trial phase in the USA and is involving the entire textile chain to develop a fully functioning textile-to-textile circular system.  In January 2021, the Walmart Foundation contributed US$1.2 million towards ensuring the trials happened.

“At Milliken, our approach to sustainability is action-oriented and that’s why we joined Accelerating Circularity,” said Jeff Strahan, director of sustainability, compliance and research at Milliken. “We knew they were addressing the challenge of circularity head on rather than simply talking about possible solutions down the road. We have the operational capabilities and workforce innovation that make participating in these trials a great way for us to help reduce the environmental impact of the textile industry.”

 The US trials are designed to assist Accelerating Circularity in proving that a functioning textile-to-textile circular supply chain that reduces textile waste is possible.

“Milliken has been an invaluable partner and participant from the beginning of the formation of Accelerating Circularity,” said Karla Magruder, president and founder of the organisation. “It is well integrated with the rest of the supply chain which is required to make circularity a reality. The company’s Rapid Prototype Centre (RPC) also gives it a competitive advantage in terms of being able to quickly run small process trials prior to scale-up and provide preliminary feedback on product quality, aesthetics and consistency.”

Milliken’s RPC is the largest privately-owned textile testing centre in the United States and will be instrumental in the ability to run the trials quickly and efficiently.

“Milliken’s RPC provides our organisation with an invaluable tool – the ability to fail fast and adjust,” said Magruder. “Typical production equipment requires hundreds of pounds of fibre that leads to thousands of yards of fabric and the risk profile is not advantageous to trying new things. Milliken’s RPC lets us process small amounts of material and provides the interested parties with the confidence these materials will work on true production equipment.”

Milliken joined Accelerating Circularity as a steering committee member with additional current members including Eastman, Gap Inc, Giotex, Gr3n, Lenzing, Nike, Target, VF Corp. and Unifi.

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