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Sustainable fashion industry becoming a reality in Sweden

Swedish textile recycling process developer Renewcell AB has announced the construction start of its demonstration plant, where a completely new way of recycling cotton will "revolutionize" the fashion industry. With the company's newly developed technology, old textiles such as jeans or T-shirts can be converted into new textile pulp. The demo plant is located inside the AkzoNobel facility in Kristinehamn, Sweden, and is expected to be completed during the first quarter of 2017.

Founded in 2012 by innovators from the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH) in Stockholm originally researching more efficient ways of producing bioethanol by finding a new way to decompose cellulose, Renewcell has in its Stockholm lab, developed a technology that makes it possible to take waste from the textile industry and from it produce new pulp.

Such pulp is called dissolving pulp and is primarily made using wood as feedstock. Dissolving pulp is mainly used to manufacture textile fibre materials such as “viscose” or “lyocell”. Until now it has not been possible to make new high-quality textiles from recycled fabric.

According to the company, the global textile demand is currently some 90 million tonnes annually. Natural materials such as cotton and viscose represent only about one-third of the demand. The remaining fibres are mainly oil-based materials such as polyester, elastane, and nylon.

“Fashion quality” recycled fibre

Being able to increase the share of natural materials by extending the life of already available resources is a top priority both among consumers and among the big fashion companies.

Until now, it has not been possible to recycle cotton into the quality that the fashion industry demands, but with re:newcell pulp this becomes possible.

The technology development has been ongoing since 2012 and now the process has matured to such a degree that the company is investing EUR 8 million to build an initial production line inside the AkzoNobel facility in Kristinehamn.

We are very pleased to now be able to move forward and contribute to realizing the dream of the sustainable textile industry. Kristinehamn is located in the Paper Province in Värmland and gives us access to great skills when it comes to resource-efficient mass production. We consider it very positive that we can operate from a first-class facility such as AkzoNobel’s in Kristinehamn, commented Malcolm Norlin.

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