Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts Waste Technology and Innovation Study

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Clothes and textiles

  1. Current technologies

Scrap and waste clothes are already sold to the 'flocking' industry where items are shredded for fillers in car insulation, roofing felts, loudspeaker cones, panel linings, furniture padding among other applications. Wool is sold to specialist firms for fibre reclamation to make yarn or fabric.99

The fibre reclamation process starts with the grading of incoming material into type and colour at mills. Colour sorting means no re-dying has to take place which saves energy and reduces pollutants. Initially material is shredded into 'shoddy' (fibres) and depending on the end uses of the yarn, for example as a rug, other fibres are chosen to be blended with the shoddy. The blended mixture is carded to clean and mix the fibres, and spun ready for weaving or knitting.100

        1. Emerging technologies

Japanese company Teijin Fibers, has developed the world's first technology for chemical recycling of polyester. The process decomposes polyester for conversion into new polyester raw materials that offer purity comparable to those derived from petroleum. Registered apparel and sportswear manufacturers make products from the recyclable materials as well collecting them for recycling at the end of their useful lives. Compared to developing polyester materials from petroleum, this repeatable recycling system reduces energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 80% each.101

Teijin Fibers’ also recycles polyester fibre into tyre components. The recycled material is used for the tyre carcass, which until now, required strict performance requirements that recycled plastic could not provide. The new material is to be used by Toyo Tire & Rubber.

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