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Editorial: The drive to circularity in the textile and apparel supply chain gathers pace
published in Issue 208, April 2021
The drive to circularity and the creation of circular economies in the textile and apparel supply chain is gathering pace as efforts to develop recycling and material separation technologies start to bear fruit. At the same time, there is greater awareness among consumers—especially those in younger age groups—of the dangers to the planet posed by the generation and disposal of waste and the need to take urgent action to address these issues. One of the long standing barriers to the recycling of textiles and clothing has been the problem of separating waste textile materials economically and using those materials in new products without a loss of quality or deterioration of physical properties. However, this is now changing as a result of technological developments and the emergence of commercially viable solutions. The need to address the problem of waste has become more pressing with the boom in fast fashion, and brands are under pressure to take responsibility for their actions. In Finland, Infinited Fiber Company has developed a "circular fibre regeneration technology" which turns cellulose-based raw materials—ranging from cotton-rich textiles to rice, wheat straw and even used cardboard—into a premium textile fibre called Infinna which is said to have the natural, soft look and feel of cotton. The technology offers a dual solution which captures waste and reduces the industry's burden on limited natural resources. The company is negotiating agreements with several global fashion and textile brands to secure markets for the entire output of the plant for several years. It believes that the agreements will be in place before the end of 2021. In the USA, meanwhile, ReCircled is working with scientists and engineers to design and develop the first system which will be capable of disassembling clothing, shoes and accessories at scale using robotics, optical scanning and laser cutters and it hopes to have the first system operational in early 2022.
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