Tomra and Stadler deliver the world's first fully automated textile sorting plant in Malmö, Sweden #140


TOMRA and STADLER delivered the fully automated sorting plant for Sysav Industri AB, which sorts pre- and post-consumer mixed textile waste in southern Skåne, in Sweden. Four of TOMRA’s AUTOSORT® units are an integral part of the plant built and designed by STADLER. The plant is part of the Swedish Innovation Platform for Textile Sorting (SIPTex) government-funded project, which aims to develop a sorting solution tailored to the needs of textile recyclers and the garment industry.

Automated sorting: key to achieving a textile circular economy

Sorting textiles according to the various types of fibers they contain requires a high degree of precision. It is currently done manually, but the result doesn’t meet the requirements of recycling companies and the fashion industry. As a result, only a small quantity of discarded textiles is recycled and the potential for increasing it is enormous. The SIPTex project is exploring how to achieve the required quality through automation.

Testing the technology on textiles

The plant in Malmö is the third phase in the SIPTex project, and follows an initial theoretical study and, in phase two, the construction of a small pilot plant in Avesta, also designed and supplied by TOMRA and STADLER in 2017. In this second phase, the project collected 700 tonnes of used textiles from recycling centers. Following a manual pre-sorting of reusable textiles, the waste material was fed into the Avesta pilot plant.

The main objective was to test the equipment’s capability to sort the textiles and identify any changes or optimizations to the process that may be required. “As automated textile sorting had never been done before, we were facing a challenging task we could only overcome by joining forces. Thus, we relied on our longstanding and close partnership with STADLER and our both expertise and equipment. For the Avesta pilot we supplied AUTOSORT® NIR VIS sorter, then four more for the Malmö plant”, explains László Székely, VP Head of Plastic Applications at TOMRA.


The world’s first fully-automated textile sorting plant

The automated textile sorting plant in Malmö has a capacity of up to 4.5 tonnes/hour in one line. The incoming material is delivered in bales, typically weighting 350 to 500 kg. It includes pre- and post-consumer waste. The former consists of dry, industrial waste from textile producers such as clippings, yarn and rejects. The latter is made up of clothing and household textiles, which include unsorted material from separate collection from sources such as recycling centers, and manually pre-sorted and industrial waste from textile leasing and rental services. The material is sorted whole and may contain buttons, zippers and other non-textile parts.