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Route to circular polyester from apparel waste

Adrian Wilson

Yarn 100% derived from recovered textile waste in closed loop system

19th June 2023

Adrian Wilson
 |  Milan

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

A Shimano-branded cycling shirt was displayed at the stand of Pure Loop, a subsidiary of of Austria’s Erema Group, during the  ITMA 2023 exhibition in Milan (June 8-14)  – demonstrating the full feasibility of closed loop polyester garment production.

The Shimano shirt is the result of a project initiated by fibre leader RadiciGroup and sportswear manufacturer Sportstex, who were looking to recover polyester textile waste such as uniforms for football, volleyball and other sports.

As a company specialising in fibre recovery machinery, Pure Loop’s involvement saw the three companies carrying out a range of tests to achieve a recycled textile product with advanced technical features.

An initial result was obtained using a mixed recovery technique – the dosing of variable percentages of granules from recycled bottles together with polyester granules from recycled fabrics.

Closed Loop recycling technology at ITMA 2023. © A.Wilson

This process was gradually fine-tuned to produce a yarn that is 100% derived from recovered textile waste, from which the Shimano cycling shirt was produced, with exactly the same performance properties as the shirt made from virgin polyester.

Erdotex – a company specialised in the sorting of used garments, with plants in the Netherlands and Belgium – is now supporting the project and using specific procedures, will make it possible to feed the circular recycling process that has been developed, with a view to future industrial-scale production.

“Achieving increasingly sustainable textiles is at the heart of the strategy of Radici InNova, the RadiciGroup company focused on innovation for circularity,” said Gianni Todaro, R&D specialist at RadiciGroup Advanced Textile Solutions. “For some time now, we have been designing solutions with high technical performance that respect the environment, working in synergy with our customers and suppliers and sharing our knowledge in the recovery of textile waste.”

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