New research to make complex textile recycling decision-making easier

A new EU regulation will enter into force in January 2025 demanding post-consumer textiles to be collected and sorted separately, which means that textiles that were previously thrown in the garbage will now be collected. In parallel, consumer demand for sustainable materials and products is increasing. In all, the need to scale up textile recycling solutions in Europe, and globally, is immense. This however opens a complex supply chain problem where optimal decision-making is crucial to generate scale and sustainability in a feasible way, said Rudrajeet Pal, Professor of Textile Management at the Swedish School of Textiles, University of Borås and Project Leader.

"There are several factors that need to be considered if you look at it from a sustainable and commercial business perspective," he said. “There are many questions that stand in the way of textile recycling: what textile waste is available, where, and how much? What recycling technology is the best option as per waste specification? What are the processing and transportation capacities and costs for handling textile waste? Does the recycled output meet quality, safety, and sustainability criteria? What is the demand from brands when purchasing recycled materials?”

Rudrajeet Pal sees that it will be complex for the stakeholders, such as recyclers, brands and waste traders in the value chain. Therefore, the project Resortex, with researchers from the Swedish School of Textiles, Linköping and Gävle universities, and the Indian Institute of Technology in Delhi and National Physical Laboratory (CSIR) in India, will develop and test a comprehensive data-driven tool that can make such decision-making easier and generate recommendations.

India an important textile recycling hub

India today stands as one of the world's largest importer, recycler, and exporter of used textiles and has extensive investment projects and multinational collaborations, linked to textile recycling.

“India is now poised to become one of the most important recycling hubs of the world. The Panipat region has more than three hundred mechanical recyclers which are supplying recycled yarns to major clothing brands. With the positive policy intervention from the government, textile recyclers are now investing in modern technologies and exploring new business models to reshape this industry”, said Abhijit Majumdar, Professor at the Indian Institute of Technology.

Several companies are participating in the project

In Resortex, researchers from multiple disciplines (decision science, textile science, value chain and logistics) come together with several companies (Aditya Birla Fashion & Retail Limited, Easy to Trust), from both Sweden and India to put their brains together and solve this challenge.

“Easy to Trust will support the RESORTEX project in developing the user interface for the decision support tool, which aims to facilitate circularity in textile manufacturing, while also enhancing data visualisation and streamlining data management through automation on their cloud-based platform. We will also support with identifying the relevant Key Performance Indicators for managing the circularity in the process”, said Mari Hellblom, founder of the company Easy To Trust.

The project runs until 2026 and is funded by Formas in Sweden and Department of Science and Technology in India within the framework of the “Indo-Swedish Joint Call in Circular Economy.”

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About the project 

Sweden-India collaboration on textile recycling

About the call