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Renewcell starts first commercial textile-to-textile recycling plant

By Simone Preuss


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Image: Renewcell plant / Alexander Donka

Swedish recycling company Renewcell is well known in the textile industry, most notably for upcycling cellulosic textile waste, such as cotton clothes, and transforming it into its new material Circulose. Since its foundation in 2012, it has partnered with companies like H&M, Aditya Birla, Tangshan Sanyou, Levi’s, Ganni, Daiwabo Rayon and Kelheim Fibres among others. On 19th August, Renewcell started the world’s first commercial scale 100 percent textile-to-textile recycling plant in Sundsvall, Sweden.

Work started a little more than a year ago on 1st July 2021. After adapting the site to its needs, Renewcell began with the building erection in October 2021 and finished it in ten months. After several test runs with water, the plant has now switched to textile waste that is running through sections of the process line for quality assurance and adjustments. The company expects the full process line to be operational in September 2022 itself. The capacity for the first half of 2022 is estimated at 60,000 metric tons and double that by 2023/24. 

“While our production start marks a significant milestone in the global history of textiles, it also causes me to reflect on the massive achievements made by the team that built this plant,” said Renewcell CEO Patrik Lundström when commenting on the interim report of the second quarter 2022 at the end of August.

“Now, after about ten months of hard work, the site is ready for operations. And, at a cost that is about half of the cost of erecting a greenfield viscose plant. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of our experienced team we were able to deliver despite pandemics, supply chain disruptions, cost inflation and geopolitical crises,” added Lundström.

The next step is to gradually ramp-up capacity and product quality over the next three to six months. The company is also relying on its plant in Kristinehamn, which has a consistent output above 90 percent within specification.

“We are now well positioned to accelerate to meet the ever-increasing demand for Circulose from fiber manufacturers and fashion brands, and can still conclude we are five to seven years ahead of competition. We are engaged in advanced customer dialogues and see good opportunities to establish higher price levels, as well as to compensate for example for increase in transport and energy costs,” concluded Lundström.

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