In an interview with K-MAG, Carsten Eichert talks about the challenges of recycling textiles containing polyester, the new revolPET® technology and its contribution to climate protection.
Mr Eichert, up to now textiles have not been recycled – at least not to a high standard. Why is that?
Carsten Eichert: Textiles usually consist of a variety of materials. Even a shirt made of 100% cotton is usually sewn with a nylon thread. In addition, different colours, additives and finishing materials are used, which make material recycling, i.e. mechanical recycling, impossible. Especially in the post-consumer waste stream, there is an absolutely heterogeneous mix of materials that cannot be separated by type with the existing sorting techniques (almost exclusively manual sorting!) in such a way that mechanical recycling would be possible.
Mechanical recycling is dependent on very clean input streams, such as those found in PET bottle recycling. The textile industry cannot offer this. Therefore, this type of recycling is largely ruled out, especially if a larger proportion of synthetic fibres is involved. For pure cotton products, recycling is now possible, but also under strict quality requirements for the supplier industry.