Textile industry is a million miles away from turning the concept of circularity into reality. In order to reduce that distance Australian company BlockTexx recently announced the opening of the world’s first commercial poly-cotton recycling facility in Loganholme, Queensland, Australia. The facility will recycle around 50,000 tonnes of textiles and create 140 jobs over the next four years, if all goes according to plan.
It is the world’s first commercial scale textile resource recovery facility focusing on blended (cotton-polyester) products. BlockTexx’s patented technology, S.O.F.T. (Separation of Fiber Technology) processes pure polyester, poly/cotton blends, pure cotton and any other cellulosic material.
In BlockTexx’s recycling process, materials are placed in a bespoke reactor, where polyester and cotton are separated. Cotton breaks down into cellulose and can be used in paints, cosmetics, concrete and other sectors. Polyester undergoes a heating and liquefaction process to become pellets that can be used for playground equipment, furniture, coat-hangers and other products.
Graham Ross, co-founder of BlockTexx said, “Through our S.O.F.T (Separation of Fiber Technology) process, we achieve a very high processing recovery rate of approximately 1 to 1 from feedstock input, a recovery rate of approximately 95 percent.”
In terms of feedstock, BlockTexx receives materials for recycling from large-scale laundry and workwear companies. Despite the challenging economic environment, BlockTexx has several months of feedstock runway, long-term feedstock supply contracts with Celtex™ for celluloseOn the polyester side, trials are underway with industry partners using BlockTexx’ rPET pellets (PolyTexx™).
BlockTexx has plan to integrate more post-consumer clothing into feedstock intake. It prefers polyester/cotton blends, 100 percent polyester, and cellulosic fibers and commercial partners and brands using these materials will be prioritized as the fiber mix is important to this process.
Ross said, textile resource recovery is challenging, garment collection and sorting is fragmented and advanced technology is nascent and sophisticated. Closing the fashion industry loop is complex and will take time, great effort and increased investment.
“Recycling is hindered by complex fabric blends and excessive use of non-recyclable fibers. This can be reduced through shared knowledge and direct consultation of garment manufacturers. This approach will support their decisions on fiber selection and inform garment manufacturers on how to design their garments for end-of-life recycling,” he said.
However, Ross thinks what they are doing is laying the foundations for Australia’s textile recovery industry. But BlockTexx is not isolated, rather close to Asia where most of the world’s textiles and clothing are made. It has engaged with the global industry through Fashion for Good’s Asian Accelerator Program, Plug & Play’s Innovator Accelerator Program and has had many conversations over the years with most major fashion brands and manufacturers.
He believes Blocktex will bring textile recovery solutions to the global problem of textile waste by ccelerating discussions with industry partners and other foreign governments.