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Major progress with textile waste yarns

Adrian Wilson

Significant step-change in boosting Europe’s recycling ambitions.

8th June 2023

Adrian Wilson
 |  Milan

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

At ITMA 2023 in Milan this week, Switzerland’s Saurer is demonstrating the production of yarns made from recycled textile waste on three separate production technologies – rotor, air and intermittently even ring spinning.

The demonstrations are the result of a major new initiative with partners Renewcell, the Swedish company behind Circulose – the recently-developed fibre that can be made from 100% textile waste – and Portuguese spinning specialist Inovafil.

As a leader in traditional cotton spinning technology, Saurer has more than a million spindles in operation on its Autocoro spinning units worldwide, and at ITMA 2023 is introducing its rX Recycling Xtreme concept.

“Today only between 30-35% of textiles are collected separately, but by 2030 the aim in Europe is that up to 80% will be recycled in some way and that the share of fibre-to-fibre recycling will grow to 18-26% from just 1%,” the company’s managing director Marcus Rennekamp explained. “A high degree of contamination, reduced production speeds and a lot of personnel intervention are all common consequences of using recycled short-staple fibres in a rotor spinning mill. Extreme recycling is the new challenge for yarn producers, with ultra-short fibres bringing conventional spinning machines to their limits.”

New fibres using textile waste as raw material are increasingly being developed and brought into the markets by Scandinavian companies based on the region’s long history of paper production and deep understanding of pulp processing techniques, equipment and technologies.

Founded by innovators from Stockholm’s KTH Royal Institute of Technology in 2012, Renewcell has patented a process for recycling cellulosic-rich textile waste into the new Circulose viscose yarn. Inovafil has been one of the spinners involved in processing of this new circular fibre, specifically on Saurer’s latest Autoairo air-spinning machine.

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