FASHION

Six recycling innovations that could change fashion

Paris – The fashion industry’s enormous waste problem is pushing governments, particularly in Europe, towards ambitious recycling targets. 

The problem is that recycling textiles is a highly complex task and technical solutions are still in their infancy.

NGOs warn the real problem is over-production, and that tech innovations may just provide cover for brands to continue pumping out billions of new clothes. 

But the pressure to start recycling at massive scale is happening now.

“Brands need to get to high levels of recycling at super-speed, and if they don’t, the EU will be giving them massive fines,” said circular economy consultant Paul Foulkes-Arellano. 

AFP spoke to multiple experts to see which ideas could make a difference. 

Many will fail, but here is a snapshot of current contenders that illustrate the different challenges in textile recycling.

– MycoWorks: Mushroom leather –

MycoWorks grows mycelium (fungus roots) that comes out like luxury leather, with early clients including Hermes and General Motors (for car interiors). 

“The only input is sawdust and energy costs are extremely low because it’s a fungus not a plant, so there’s no need for light, and very little water,” said CEO Matt Scullin. 

While the makers of most new biomaterials are struggling to reach industrial scale, MycoWorks claims to have cracked the problem, billing itself as “the first and only biomaterials company to open a full-scale factory” — in the US state of South Carolina — with the first 1,000-sheet harvest coming off the line in January.

– Circ: Unblending clothes –

Most clothes are a blend of materials, making them hard to recycle. US-based Circ has invented a chemical solution to separate the most common blend, polycotton, into its constituent parts.

It uses a hydrothermal process to liquify the polyester and separate it from the cotton. 

Both can

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