Innovation in textiles: when clothes become cotton threads again #38


The European Centre for Innovative Textiles has developed a demonstrator for the mechanical recycling of short cotton fibres, and hopes to secure a deposit of used fabric fibres to create a recycling industry.

Two years! That’s how long it took to develop the first demonstrator capable of creating new cotton yarn from old clothes or linens.

This French innovation of mechanical recycling of short fibres was inaugurated on 19 September at the European Centre for Innovative Textiles (CETI). It required an investment of two million euros.

The principle: clothes and fabrics from private individuals, scraps from industrial production or unsold items are collected and sorted according to their composition and colour. Then follow stages of cutting, fraying, defibration and spinning (see the video for details of the process). “The novelty is that fraying and spinning are combined in the same process,” says Pascal Denizart, CETI’s general manager, “which makes it a European first”.

70% recycled fibres, 30% virgin fibres

However, the fibre obtained at the end of processing is too short to be spun and must be mixed with virgin fibres. “We need a minimum of 30% virgin fibres for the cotton to be spun,” says Isabelle Cornu, Strategic Marketing and CSR Manager at CETI. Recycling of other textile fibres would also be possible with this demonstrator, but the process focuses on cotton, which accounts for 30% of world fibre consumption and 45% of the fibre used for clothing. “If textile recycling processes such as the CETI demonstrator are democratized, France could become a cotton producer,” explains Isabelle Cornu. This issue of access to the resource could become essential in Europe at a time when it is estimated that the price of cotton could skyrocket in the coming years. »

Actu Environnement