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
Ellen Phiddian is a science journalist at The Royal Institution of Australia.
Read science facts, not fiction...
There’s never been a more important time to explain the facts, cherish evidence-based knowledge and to showcase the latest scientific, technological and engineering breakthroughs. Cosmos is published by The Royal Institution of Australia, a charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. Financial contributions, however big or small, help us provide access to trusted science information at a time when the world needs it most. Please support us by making a donation or purchasing a subscription today.