Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd. (SATCoL), the trading arm of The Salvation Army in the United Kingdom and Ireland Territory, has unveiled plans for the world’s first commercial-scale polyester recycling system to help further reduce textile waste.

Project Re:claim, a joint venture between leading corporate wear specialists Project Plan Band SATCoL, has successfully recycled polyester textiles back into raw material using new technology on a commercial scale.

Project Plan B developed the exclusive polyester recycling system, which is based on plastic bottle recycling. SATCoL, the U.K.’s largest charity textile collector, installed the machine at their processing centre in Kettering, Northamptonshire, which already sorts and processes around 65,000 tonnes of donated textiles every year, in September.

Majonne Frost, head of environment and sustainability at SATCoL, says: “Last year, SATCoL enabled reuse and recycling of more than 250 million products, but there are always items that are too damaged and we cannot resell, and they are often garments made from polyester.

“With this new technology, we can give these clothes a new lease on life. So, when your favourite jumper is worn out, we will take it and turn it into polyester pellets, ready to be turned back into a new jumper. This is the future of fashion.”

"With this new technology, we can give these clothes a new lease on life." - Majonne Frost

This new plant will recycle around 2,500 tonnes in its first year, rising to 5,000 tonnes in the second year, and aims to recycle polyester that has come to the end of its useful life. The technology creates polyester pellets and has successfully produced the first yarn from these.

Tim Cross, CEO at Project Plan B, says: “We need a seismic change in how garments are designed and produced. Polyester textile recycling is one of the biggest opportunities to reduce the harmful impact of producing garments, and this new technology is the first proven commercial scale system that has been designed to cope with the challenges of recycling post-consumer clothing.”

To maximize the volume and potential of the polyester recycling, SATCoL cannot rely on clothing-bank donations alone, so they are searching for corporate partners to commit to donating 100-percent polyester textiles now.

Majonne adds: “Our vision is to enable companies to produce corporate wear and fashion garments using recycled polyester. The incredible vision of Project Plan B has brought about the development of the technology, we have the infrastructure to collect donations at scale and we now need companies to step up. This is an opportunity for companies to make a commitment to significantly reduce their environmental impact. In preparation for full production, we are currently seeking 100-percent polyester textiles, such as used hotel linen or post-event promotional banners.”

SATCoL already has the U.K.’s only automated textile sorting facility, Fibersort. Based at the charity’s purpose-built processing centre in Kettering, Fibersort automatically identifies and sorts second-hand textiles by fibre type and is the first step in textile-to-textile recycling.

This additional new technology is the next step towards SATCoL’s ambition to create the U.K.’s first fibre farm, with the aim of massively scaling up textile-to-textile recycling of all types of materials. This presents a huge opportunity for the fashion circular economy.

Reprinted from Salvationist, United Kingdom and Ireland Territory.

Photo: RecycleMan/iStock via Getty Images Plus

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