The Fibersort consortium has launched its latest innovation – the Fibersort machine, a cutting-edge automated sorting technology that can categorise textiles in 45 different fractions based on their fibre composition and colour. Using Near Infrared (NIR) based technology, the machine promises to revolutionise textile-to-textile recycling of post-consumer textiles.
The accelerating consumption and disposal practices in fashion cause textiles entering the market to reach their end-of-use rapidly. In north-west Europe alone, around 4,700 kilo tonnes of post-consumer textile waste are generated every year, a small portion of the global mountain of textile waste. On average, only 30 percent of these textiles are collected separately, the rest is lost within household waste. In best-case scenario, these textiles are sold in the second-hand market both locally and internationally.
The remaining textiles are considered non-rewearable textiles due to their unsuitability for the second-hand market or the market saturation that second-hand clothing is currently facing. Almost all of these textiles are currently being downcycled, incinerated or landfilled. Nevertheless, 24 percent of the textiles collected have the potential to be recycled into new textiles, but currently are not being recycled. These textiles represent 486 kilo tonnes per year, the equivalent to the weight of 50 Eiffel towers!
Automated sorting technologies could enable the industry to turn non-rewearable textiles that currently have no other destination than downcycling, landfill or incineration into valuable feedstock for textile-to-textile recycling. One of these technologies is Fibersort. Over the past years, the technology has been optimised, tested and validated to prepare it for commercialisation. The Fibersort is now able to sort 900 kgs of post-consumer textiles per hour.