A new report evaluated the financial viability of using post-consumer clothing and textiles as feedstock for chemical and mechanical fibre to fibre recycling operations in the UK. The study models the finances for both chemical and mechanical fibre to fibre recycling processes for recovering polycotton and cotton respectively. It highlights the pressure points, and potential returns, and outlines the barriers to developing post-consumer full fibre to fibre recycling.
The study, carried out by WRAP, suggests sorting done of clothing using near-infrared spectroscopy may be critical to the wider development of recycling. It also argues that chemical recycling processes are commercially farther off than mechanical but may offer higher economic potential in the long run.
The research was undertaken ahead of the anticipated global shortfall in virgin textiles. This predicts limitations in future cotton supplies, the UK’s most used fibre, with some projections suggesting a five-million-tonne global cotton deficit by 2020.