Textile recycling pioneers weave
When it comes to recyclers’ activities, much attention is focused on recovering metals or the
‘new gold’, plastics. And yet, there have been several significant innovations on the textiles
front in recent months. Read on for a comprehensive update on these latest developments.
he scale of the international textiles in-
dustry is enormous: it produces upwards
of 100 billion pieces of clothing every
year, represents 3% of the world’s GDP and
employs around 75 million people. The USA
alone generates around 15 million tonnes of
textiles waste annually. Today, not even 5% of
materials within the US$ 1.9 trillion global
fashion industry get recycled. But that may
be about to change.
Dr Nolene Byrne of Australia’s Deakin University found a unique way to recycle denim.
From denim to cartilage
A group of researchers and scientists at
Australia’s Deakin University has found a
way to transform natural, dyed or blended
fibres into various valuable products such
as artificial joints. The innovative process
breaks down fabrics to their chemical level,
says Associate Professor Dr Nolene Byrne.
Denim was an obvious starting point for the
R&D project because it is made from cotton,
a natural polymer comprised of 90% cellulose.
‘Cellulose is a versatile renewable material,’
The Australian specialists managed to dis-
solve denim with eco-friendly liquid solvents
and manipulate the remains into an aerogel.
Byrne notes that aerogels are a class of ad-
vanced materials with very low density, some-
times referred to as ‘frozen smoke’ or ‘solid
smoke’. When the researchers were reforming
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