What might the future of chemical recycling look like?
A chemical recycling pilot plant was opened and presented to the public in Maribor, Solvenia. Developed during the EU Horizon 2020 funded project Resyntex PhD researcher Cathryn Anneka went to explore what the future of textile recycling might look like.
More and more interest is being paid to the development of chemical recycling potential for textile waste and this is clearly demonstrated through the EU 2020 funded Resyntex project. The result of this research consortium is the development of technology which can recycle not just single material types but tackle the complex issue of blends. The pilot plant based in Maribor, Slovenia presented industry and researchers with a plant which is capable of producing small or lab-scale chemical recycling. The technology produces a ‘half-way product’ between the textile waste input and a new product (textile or non-textile) to be sold into markets which would complete the process. The plant line is made up of high-temperature and high-pressure machinery developed to process: cotton, cotton / polyester, wool, polyamide 6, polyamide 6.6 and polyester. In addition, they have the ability to strip the colour of textiles through decolorization technology. This was very impressive, but the technology and pilot is not without challenges. Chemical recycling is not commercialised yet, and there is still some way to go. Is this what the future of recycling might look like?