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Mixing it up in Prato

Is mechanical recycling a growing industry?

The wool recycling industry in Prato, Italy has been recycling our waste woollen clothing for nearly two centuries. Cathryn Anneka Hall visited the city to produce a case study. The focus was to establish a working process model of the recycling industry and the many possible combinations of recycled materials which can be produced.

Across two field visits Cathryn followed the recycling system from textile waste; sorted by colour; ‘cleaned’ by removing labels, buttons and zips; through to being recycled back into fibre. This continued with blending, spinning and weaving into beautiful cloth. By understanding the holistic system for wool recycling and seeing first-hand the processes the recycling model could be mapped. As a design researcher visiting the field, Cathryn was able to establish four key hotspots: sorting, blending, processing and end-product/market, for future design innovation towards mixed fibre recycling and circular fibres of the future.

Large piles of coloured clothes