Technology Assessment - Redefining Textile Waste Sorting: Impulses and findings for the future of next-gen sorting facilities
Textiles play a fundamental role in our society, providing us with essential commodities such as clothing, footwear and home textiles. Once textiles are in use, they become unwearable or unusable after some time, leading to the generation of high amounts of textile waste in the world, which at some point end up in landfills or incinerators. Therefore, it is essential to collect and sort textile waste according to the waste hierarchy to allow for the best utilization to circumvent environmental pollution and conserve and reuse resources.

Until now, textile sorting for reuse and recycling has been labor-intensive and not accurate enough for recyclers, making it expensive and creating quality issues for recycling. The Transform Textile Waste into Feedstock (TTWiF) project carried out a technology assessment (TA) to assess the best available sorting techniques and processes. Furthermore, it conceptualized and developed a highly automated and scalable textile sorting solution that addresses the critical challenges in textile recycling. The results from the TA show potential developments that would benefit textile companies and recyclers, through aspects such as:

  • Faster and better quality recycled textiles
  • Higher throughput of sorted textiles
  • Reduced costs for textile recycling
  • Increased profitability and sustainability for the textile and apparel industries

This white paper will take a deep dive into the method used and the findings from the technology assessment. The sorting system evaluated, which has identified bottlenecks and possibilities for sorting textile waste, has the potential to revolutionize the textile recycling industry and make it possible to achieve a more circular textile economy.