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UK signs up for smarter textile recycling

The largest network of fashion and textile interests in the UK has launched a £4 million (EUR 4.7 million) project to develop and pilot a fully integrated, automated sorting and pre-processing demonstrator for unwanted textiles.

The UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT) involves designers, manufacturers, suppliers, agents, educators and retailers to promote their businesses and industry both in the UK and throughout the world. Major partners include Marks & Spencer, Texco and New Look.

The Autosort for Circular Textiles Demonstrator (ACT UK) is a two-year project to support a transition from the manual sorting of clothes and textiles to highly-automated sorting and pre-processing, generating material which can be used as feedstock for existing and emerging recycling processes.
ACT UK brings together recycling technologies, textile collectors and sorters, academics, manufacturers, industry associations, technologists and brands/retailers, supported with funding from the Government’s Innovate UK. 

Under one roof

More than million tonnes of used textiles are generated annually in the UK and it is estimated that one-third are non-rewearable textiles currently being lost to landfill, incineration or export.

ACT UK’s partners say their project will build on sorting initiatives in the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden. The UK approach will innovate, combine and advance existing and new supporting technologies to overcome current barriers to materials circularity. Under one roof, it will bring together and advance key technology components including state of the art optical scanning, robotics, AI, pre-processing (buttons, zips, trim removal) and size reduction equipment.

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