What is T4T
Textiles for textiles will make clothing more sustainable
In Textiles for Textiles (T4T) an automatic sorting installation for post consumer textiles and clothes will be demonstrated. The installation will be able to sort textile materials on fiber composition (cotton, wool, polyester, blends, …) and on color. Sorting is considered essential in upgrading textile recycling. The sorting will be based on NIR-spectroscopy and the sorting algorithms developed in the T4T-project will become the standard in textile sorting. This will guarantee buyers of sorted textiles a constant quality in terms of composition regardless at what sorting plant they buy and when they buy.
As reclaimed fibers (a product after opening sorted fractions) are amongst the most environmental friendly textiles material available, the T4T-project will greatly contribute in making textile products more sustainable.
In T4T, stakeholders in the textile recycling chain, from collectors to end-users, will upgrade the recycling activities, both technological as well as economic. The upgrading of post consumer textile recycling is based on an automated and advanced sorting system, which is able to sort large quantities of post-consumer textile waste on chemical composition, colour and (if necessary) other parameters, like structure, coating or finish composition. The basis for this technology was developed in the Craft project Identitex (BRST-CT98-5363) which was carried out in 1999 – 2001. As the perception of post-consumer textile waste has changed, prices for raw materials have and will increase in future and sustainability has become an important issue in everyone’s life, there is a great interest in reclaimed fibre materials.
The automatic sorting system will be installed at a post consumer textile sorting plant. At this location, after a first manual sorting of wearable clothing (appr. 50%), the rest fraction (50%) will be sorted. As part of the assessment of the benefits of the T4T-technology, several sorted post consumer textile fractions will be further processed by shredding/opening (resulting in fibres), spinning weaving/knitting and finishing into a number of valuable end-products like clothing (woven and knitted) and home textiles (curtains, upholstery, carpets). Shorter fibres will end-up in non-wovens for application in personal hygiene, insulation and automotive applications.
A rest fraction of a complex mixtures of fibres will be transformed into building materials like panels and furniture, just by heating the materials in special moulds (the thermoplastic fibre content will be used for “glueing” the fibres into the final shape).
It is anticipated that the first automatic sorting will be demonstrated in the 3rd quarter of 2010. In the course of the project the sorting algorithms will be optimized. First end products will be developed in the 1st quarter of 2011.