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Introducing Fibersort, a post-consumer textile sorting machine looking to clean up the industry

By Huw Hughes

12 Mar 2020

Fashion

A cutting edge machine looking to revolutionise textile to textile recycling by automatically sorting large volumes of post-consumer garments is now up and running in Wormerveer, just outside of Amsterdam.

The Fibersort machine, a Near Infrared (NIR) based technology, is capable of sorting around 900kg of post-consumer textiles per hour in 45 different fractions based on their fibre composition and colour. Fibersorted materials have been validated by project partners and are now ready for the market.

The technology, which has been several years in the making, is part of a wider Fibersort project funded by Interreg NWE and comprising a consortium of companies including Dutch-based impact organisation Circle Economy, as well as Valvan Baling Systems, ReShare, Procotex, Worn Again Technologies and Smart Fibersorting.

The project looks to tackle the fashion and textile industry’s issue of excessive waste. In North-West Europe alone, around 4,700 kilotonnes of post-consumer textile waste are generated every year, according to Interreg NWE. Only 30 percent of that is collected separately - the rest is thrown into household waste.

The opportunities to scale the use of recycled textiles are becoming increasingly acknowledged in the fashion and textile industry as the notoriously wasteful sector attempts to clean itself up and meet growing consumer demand for more sustainable products and services.

“There are clear opportunities to successfully integrate automated sorting technologies and recycled post-consumer textiles across the value chain. Over the past years, innovation has spurred across this sector of the industry,” said Circle Economy. “However, several challenges remain to ensure the long-term implementation of these technologies in relation to financial and technical feasibility as well as the opportunities to scale. Collectors, sorters, recyclers, manufacturers, brands and policymakers have both opportunities and responsibilities to address these challenges.”

 

Photo credit: Circle Economy