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Telaketju project in Finland focusing to create business value chain

Telaketju, a network promoting sustainable recycling of textiles of Finland, shifts its focus from recycling to managing the whole value chain, prolonging textile life-span and creating new business models. The Telaketju Tekes project was coordinated by VTT (the Technical Research Centre of Finland).

mechanical textile recycling, VTT's foam process
Figure 1: The dusty side stream of mechanical textile recycling proved to work well in VTT’s foam process in various mixtures with both pulp and binder fibers. Courtesy: VTT

A two-year textile 2.0 pilot project started in 2016, with the aim to end-of-life textile collection and sorting out in Southwest Finland.  The pilot project was an indicator for noticing that textile recycling regarding the whole life cycle is the attention of many in Finland.

After the successful completion of the 2-year first phase, both companies and public research institutes are developing.

The aim is to create better business conditions for Finnish business in the textile circular economy, taking into account new types of circular economy business models aimed at material efficiency and extending the life cycle of textiles, as well as recycling-related business.

Different recycling processes for textile waste
Figure 2: Different recycling processes for textile waste. Courtesy: Telaketju

“The European Union’s demand for a separate collection of textile waste by 2025 necessitated the development of textile recycling in Finland. In addition, a large number of companies are interested in new business models for the circular economy that promote the reuse of textiles. The project has tested the production of various products from recycled fibers and created the basis for building a recycling business,” says Pirjo Heikkilä, Senior Research Scientist at VTT and Coordinator of the Telaketju project.

New business in Finland: market potential $ 60-120 million EUR

The two-year R&D project, led by VTT, will gather more than 20 companies and research partners together to create a sustainable basis for the circular economy of textiles. VTT has made a preliminary assessment of the market potential of mechanical textile recycling. According to this, the annual market potential would be between EUR 60 and 120 million.

This would have an impact on the employment of between 150 and 300 persons. Phase I investments would cost $20-30 million. EUR.

Opportunities for business expansion can be seen especially in the Stockholm and St. Petersburg areas. VTT’s preliminary estimate takes into account the amount of textile waste generated in Finland, the recycling rate of recycled textiles, the estimate of the price of recycled material and the level of the EU recycling requirement still open, which may be up to 50%.

The market potential for mechanical textile recycling is growing, taking into account the circular economy business and other recycling technologies.

centralized sorting refinement plant in textile recycling
Figure 3: Idea for centralized sorting and refinement plant and its role in textile recycling scheme. Courtesy: Telaketju

“Through the Telaketju project, Finland has created significant expertise in textile recycling, as well as a wide network of cooperation,” says Sisko Sipilä, Chief Adviser of Business Finland.

The reuse, chemical recycling and energy recovery of textiles are also being researched and developed in Finland, as they are also considered to have market potential.

The annual volume of textile waste generated in Finland is estimated at 70-100 million kg. In Finland, 13-18 kg of textiles are consumed per capita and clothing and home textiles are worth € 3.4 billion.

“They will help in finding sustainable textile solutions in line with the recycling and circular economy goals of Finland and the EU. The Telaketju 2 project belongs to Business Finland’s Bio & Circular Finland program, where textile recycling and its new business opportunities are one of the key themes,” Sisko Sipilä further said.

Track 2 to continue building the textile ecosystem

In Telaketju 2, both companies and public research institutes are developing. The aim is to create better business conditions for Finnish business in the textile circular economy, taking into account new types of circular economy business models aimed at material efficiency and extending the life cycle of textiles, as well as recycling-related business.

Read the full report here: VTT

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