EU puts €6.8m into ‘circular’ cotton project

Twelve fashion and textile sector partners are to demonstrate a circular model for commercial garment production under the European Union-funded New Cotton Project.

It has received €6.8m in funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme.

Over three years, the project will see textile waste collected, sorted and regenerated into Finnish biotechnology group Infinited Fiber Company’s cellulose-based textile fibres. 

The company has patented technology that can regenerate cellulose-rich textile waste into fibres that it says look and feel like cotton. 

Manufacturers Inovafil, Tekstina and Kipas will use these to produce yarns, woven fabrics and denim respectively. 

Adidas and the H&M Group companies will then design, manufacture and sell clothing made from the fabrics.

Clothing that can no longer be worn will be returned for regeneration into new fibres.

Frankenhuis will sort and pre-process the textile waste used in this project, while the South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences will develop a technical solution for the continuous processing of textile waste fibres for pre-treatment. 

Other partnership members include Revolve Waste, which will collect and manage data on textile waste to estimate feedstock availability, and the Research Institute of Sweden, which will conduct the sustainability and techno-economic analyses for the project and manage eco-labelling, while Finland’s Aalto University will analyse the ecosystem and circular business models. 

Sustainable fashion innovation platform Fashion for Good will lead stakeholder cooperation and training.

Infinited Fiber Company chief executive Petri Alava said: “We are very excited and proud to lead this project, which is breaking new ground when it comes to making circularity in the textile industry a reality.”

Project partners said fashion brands produce nearly twice as many clothes as they did 20 years ago and the equivalent of one refuse truck of textiles is landfilled or burned every second. 

The sector has come under pressure over wasteful ‘fast fashion’ in the UK and from environmental campaigners over the use of fossil-based fibres such as polyester and viscose.

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