Circle-8 Spearheads Recycling in UK Textile Sector

In a groundbreaking initiative, Circle-8 Textile Ecosystems, a key player in the UK circular textiles sector, is leading the way in revolutionizing textile recycling. The company is playing a vital role in the £4 million Autosort for Circular Textiles Demonstrator (ACT UK) project, aimed at designing an automated sorting and pre-processing facility for non-reusable textiles. This collaboration, led by the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT), brings together industry stakeholders to divert thousands of tonnes of textiles from UK landfills and incineration.

The ACT UK project, announced by the secretary of state for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport, Lucy Frazer, is a significant step towards achieving a circular economy for textiles. With over 300,000 tonnes of non-rewearable textiles generated annually in the country, Circle-8 and its partners aim to establish an efficient and scalable solution for converting unwanted textiles into feedstock for fiber-to-fiber recycling methods.

The two-year initiative will utilize cutting-edge technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), optical scanning, and robotics. By integrating these technologies under one roof, the project seeks to create a blueprint for automated systems that can be replicated across the UK. State-of-the-art pre-processing equipment, including trim removal and size reduction, will be employed to optimize the sorting process.

Adam Mansell, CEO of UKFT, expressed the urgency of addressing the growing textile waste problem: “What happens to our textiles when we no longer need them is a growing problem that we cannot ignore.” He emphasized the potential impact of the project, stating that a national system of recycling plants could save hundreds of thousands of tonnes of material from entering landfills and generate significant volumes of feedstock for the UK textile manufacturing sector.

Circle-8 is dedicated to implementing a full-scale, 50,000-tonne-per-year automated sorting and pre-processing facility. This facility will provide feedstock for existing and emerging mechanical and chemical recycling processes. The company’s long-term goal is to establish the UK’s first industrial-scale fiber-to-fiber chemical recycling plant. By participating in the ACT UK initiative, Circle-8 aims to contribute to the development of a comprehensive approach to post-use textiles collection and sorting.

Cyndi Rhoades, CEO of Circle-8, highlighted the importance of transitioning to regional, automated sorting facilities: “Transitioning to regional, automated sorting facilities for non-rewearable textiles is an absolute must if we want to achieve reliable, high-volume, cost-effective material inputs for industrial-scale fiber-to-fiber recycling plants.” She expressed excitement about being part of this groundbreaking initiative and its potential impact on the textile industry.

In addition to the ACT UK project, Circle-8 and UKFT are collaborating on the Digital Supply Chain Hub Testbed for Textiles project. This venture, funded by Digital Catapult’s Made Smarter Innovation program, aims to develop technical solutions for accessing and utilizing cross-supply chain data. By providing key insights into the economics and values of post-consumer textiles suitable for recycling, this project aims to further enhance sustainability in the industry.

Circle-8’s participation in the ACT UK project and its broader collaboration with industry stakeholders demonstrate a strong commitment to advancing textile recycling and sustainability. With their pioneering efforts, Circle-8 Textile Ecosystems and its partners are poised to transform the UK textile sector, paving the way for a circular economy and reducing environmental impact.


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