Turning textiles into raw materials

If they can’t be used second-hand, is it possible to recycle old clothes? What about recycling other fabrics and textiles? An Australian company, BlockTexx, has recently received funding to build a textile recovery facility in Queensland. Using technology developed by Queensland University of Technology researchers, the plant will take old textiles and turn them into raw materials that can be used by other industries.

One of the central problems with textiles is that they’re often a mix of completely different chemicals – such as cotton and polyester. This makes them very difficult to turn into new, high-quality products. The separation-of-fibre technology (S.O.F.T.) process developed by QUT, however, separates the polyester and cotton in textiles completely, allowing them to be used for other purposes.

Cosmos spoke to Robert Speight, a professor at QUT, and Adrian Jones, a co-founder of BlockTexx, about the technology and its environmental implications.

Robert Speight, professor of microbial biotechnology at Queensland University of Technology

  • How the SOFT process works: 0:10
  • Environmental savings from the textile recovery: 1:30
  • What’s next for textile recovery: 2:30

Adrian Jones, co-founder of BlockTexx

  • Why it’s difficult to recycle textiles: 3:50
  • What BlockTexx will be doing with recovered materials: 4:50
  • Environmental risks and benefits of the technology: 6:10
  • Is it textile recycling? 7:50
  • Where BlockTexx is going next: 9:00

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