Man-Made Fiber Year Book 2021: New developmen...
Man-Made Fiber Year Book 2021

New developments in fiber recycling

(Source: Pixabay)
(Source: Pixabay)

One of the megatrends in the fiber year 2021 is fiber recycling. While polyester recycling and spinning fiber from recycled bottle flakes is a long-time proven technology, closing the loop for most types of man-made fibers is still at the very beginning.

The synthetic fiber and fabric producer Hyosung TNC Corp., Seoul/Korea, launched its recycle project Regen Seoul in the Korean capital following the project success in Jeju Province. Regen is an eco-friendly recycled polyester fiber from transparent PET bottles collected by the local governments. Hyosung TNC and the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) have concurred that a fundamental policy change is needed when it comes to resource circulation and agreed to join forces to promote a project aimed at recycling waste plastics into high-value-added fibers. For the project, promoted by SMG, 3 districts will collect transparent PET bottles for the recycled fiber production.

Carbios SA, Saint-Beauzire/France, a company pioneering new bio-industrial solutions to reinvent the lifecycle of plastic and textile polymers, and the tire producer Michelin SA, Clermont-Ferrand/France, have taken a major step towards developing 100 % sustainable tires. Michelin has successfully tested and applied Carbios’ enzymatic recycling process for PET plastic waste, in order to create a high-tenacity tire fiber that meets the companies technical requirements. Carbios’ enzymatic recycling process uses enzymes capable of depolymerizing PET contained in various plastics or textiles (bottles, trays, clothing, etc.). This innovation allows infinite recycling of all types of PET waste. It also allows the production of 100 % recycled and 100 % recyclable PET products, with the same quality as if they were produced with virgin PET.
Furthermore, Carbios has signed an agreement with Equipolymers GmbH, Schkopau/Germany, in mid-April 2021 to build a first-of-a-kind 100 % PET recycling production unit using its enzymatic technology. Carbios’ first industrial unit is expected to allow for an annual production of approx. 40,000 tons of recycled PET, with the first revenues to be generated in 2025.

Teijin Frontier Co., Ltd., Tokyo/Japan, the Teijin Group fibers and products converting company, has developed a technology to mass produce a new version of its Nanofront ultra-fine polyester filaments (which are just 700 nanometers in diameter), which the company believes is the world’s first nanofiber to be made from recycled polyester (rPET) raw materials. Moreover, the new technology will enable Teijin Frontier to produce all of its polyester fiber products with recycled raw materials.
Teijin Frontier has now developed new polymer-control and spinning techniques for Nanofront made from recycled polyester materials. The key was the company’s proprietary “sea-island” composite-fiber processing technology. After dissolving and removing the "sea" part using an alkaline, etc. treatment, the "island" part can finally be extracted as raw yarn.

A new liquid pigment masterbatch technology that can be used to whiten rPET fibers quickly, cleanly, and efficiently has been developed by the manufacturer and marketer of chemical products Venator Corp., Wynyard/UK. Based on the company’s established titanium dioxide (TiO2) platform for the fiber industry, the new range is optimized for delustering PET fibers from plastic bottles that will be re-spun into polyester.

A chemical recycling solution for products based on Dyneema ultra-high-molecular-weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) fiber of Royal DSM NV, Heerlen/Netherlands, will be developed in cooperation with the international clean-tech company Clariter Poland Sp z.o.o., Gliwice/Poland. As a first step, sample products – including ropes, nets, and ballistic materials made with Dyneema – were successfully converted at Clariter’s pilot plant in Poland. The positive results confirm the technical viability of transforming Dyneema-based end-products into high-value, industrial grade, product families using Clariter’s patented 3-step chemical recycling process.

Teijin Ltd., Tokyo/Japan, JGC Holdings Corp., Yokohama/Japan, and Itochu Corp., Osaka/Japan, have signed a joint agreement on the license business of polyester chemical recycling technology from discarded polyester textile products. This agreement will bring together Teijin's proprietary chemical recycling technology deployed in the manufacture of polyester, the expertise of the JGC derived from its global engineering business, and Itochu’s extensive network of textile industry players. The 3 companies intend to establish a system for collecting discarded polyester fiber products and cost-effective chemical recycling technology for using such products as raw materials.
Eastman Chemical Co., Kingsport, TN/USA, plans to build one of the world's largest plastic-to-plastic molecular recycling facilities at its site in Kingsport. Through methanolysis, the facility will convert polyester waste into durable products, creating an optimized circular economy. Over the next 2 years, the company will invest approximately US$ 250 million in the facility, which will support Eastman's commitment to addressing the global waste crisis and to mitigating challenges created by climate change. Utilizing the company's polyester renewal technology, the new facility which will be mechanically complete by year-end 2022 will use over 100,000 tons of plastic waste annually that cannot be recycled by current mechanical methods to produce premium, high-quality specialty plastics made with recycled content.

PureCycle Technologies LLC, Orlando, FL/USA, has completed the bond financing required to build its first industrial scale PP recycling plant in Ironton, OH/USA. After completing the US$ 250 million bond raise PureCycle began construction.

B.I.G. Yarns, a division of Beaulieu International Group, Wielsbeke/Belgium, has announced the development of EqoCycle, a fully recyclable PA 6 yarn with 75 % recycled content, offering the same high-quality performance of virgin PA 6 yarn. The new recycled yarn mainly based on post-industrial waste supports contract, automotive and residential carpet manufacturers with a drop-in circular solution to reduce the ecological footprint of their end products.

Mura Technology, London/UK, and Dow Chemicals Co., Midland, MI/USA, have announced a partnership to support the rapid scaling of Mura’s new HydroPRS process to create the ingredients for a sustainable, circular plastics economy. Mura’s proprietary solution, HydroPRS (Hydrothermal Plastic Recycling Solution), is a advanced recycling process that uses supercritical steam to convert plastics back into the oils and chemicals from which they were made, for use in new, virgin-equivalent plastic products.
The world’s first plant using HydroPRS is in development in Teesside/UK, with the first 20,000 ton/year line expected to be operational in 2022. Once all 4 planned lines (UK, Germany, USA and Asia) are complete, it will be able to recycle 80,000 tons of plastic waste per year, providing Dow with chemicals and oils produced by the process.

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