Over 1 million tons of textiles, old clothes and new garments that have never been worn end up in the trash in Germany alone every year (source: Bundesverband Sekundärrohstoffe und Entsorgung e.V., Bonn/Germany). The engineering and development services company imat-uve GmbH, Mönchengladbach/Germany, is working with a German-Dutch project consortium on an industrial solution for the recycling of old clothes made of blended fibers. The recycling yarns and woven fabrics are primarily intended for use in the automotive industry.
Previous recycling approaches usually follow chemical processes and therefore cannot be seen as wholly sustainable. By optimizing the recycling process, the blended fibers can be torn very finely and processed into a particularly soft, uniform card sliver by new spinning preparation technologies. This forms the best basis for spinning. The resulting high-quality yarns (Nm15 and Nm28) can be further processed for different requirements, depending on the blending of polyester (PET).
In the trials of the project, 12 yarn qualities in different blend ratios have meanwhile been spun. All approaches to spinning, both in the pilot plant and on industrial spinning machines, led to very good results. The raw material for the production of the yarns consists of sorted used workwear (made of 60% PET and 40% cotton) and old clothes (made of unknown fiber blends) as well as raw PET.
From the resulting recycling yarns, imat-uve created various fabric samples. It could be seen that even yarn made of 100% blended fibers could be woven industrially without complications. There were no thread breaks and hardly any fiber abrasion during weaving. In tests with previous yarn and weaving versions, standard tests for the automotive industry have already been passed very well.
Besides imat-uve, the project consortium consists of the partners C2C ExpoLab, FBBasic, Stichting Texperium and Trützschler. The project is supported by the European Union within the framework of the INTERREG Germany-Netherlands program and co-financed by the North Rhine-Westphalian Ministry of Economic Affairs (MWIDE NRW), the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate (EZK) and the provinces of Limburg and Overijssel.