EU LIFE Grants €10 Million to Revolutionary Textile Recycling Project

In a major breakthrough for the circular economy, the European Union’s LIFE program has awarded a staggering €10 million grant to the groundbreaking LIFE TREATS (Textile Recycling in Europe at Scale) project. This transformative initiative aims to scale up OnceMore, an innovative industrial-scale system for the recycling of blended textile waste, developed by Swedish Forest industry group Södra and Austria’s Lenzing.

The OnceMore process, which has already demonstrated remarkable success in small-scale trials, will now be elevated to new heights at Södra’s mill in Mörrum, Sweden. Additionally, the project will involve collaborative process development between the two visionary companies. The ambitious plant will combine 50% recycled content with 50% renewable wood sourced from sustainable family forestry in Sweden, ensuring an eco-friendly approach. Once operational, it will have the capacity to process a staggering 50,000 tons per year of blended post-consumer textile waste, containing various colors and materials, and produce an impressive 60,000 tons per year of high-quality textile pulp.

What sets this project apart is its ability to handle a wide variety of complex post-consumer colored textiles, including those containing a mix of cotton, polyester, elastane, and other components. By addressing the challenges posed by these intricate materials, the project promises to revolutionize the textile recycling landscape.

The four-year project, set to commence in the third quarter of 2023, will play a pivotal role in realizing the objectives of the EU Circular Economy Action Plan. By diverting substantial volumes of colored, blended textile waste from downcycling, landfill, or incineration, the initiative aims to drive significant environmental and economic benefits. Moreover, it involves stakeholders throughout the textile circular value chain, including raw material suppliers, manufacturers, distributors, collectors, and recyclers, ensuring a comprehensive and collaborative approach.

“This substantial funding will empower Södra and Lenzing to offer a crucial solution in terms of chemical recycling, becoming a catalyst for the circular textile economy,” exclaimed Åsa Degerman, the manager of OnceMore by Södra. She further emphasized the need for a paradigm shift in the handling of textile waste, citing upcoming legislation such as the EU’s Waste Framework Directive and extended user responsibility (EPR) as indicators of the changing landscape.

Sonja Zak, the head of textile sourcing and cooperations at Lenzing Group, expressed her excitement about the project’s potential to open new circular business opportunities and increase the use of recycled fibers in the production of new clothing. She underscored the significance of a systematic approach alongside industrial-scale technological solutions, emphasizing the project’s integrated approach to effect real change. Zak concluded by highlighting the project’s commitment to sourcing textiles that are beyond reuse, ensuring valuable fiber resources are given a high-quality second life while preventing downcycling, landfill, or incineration.

The LIFE TREATS project is not only a game-changer for the textile industry but also a testament to the EU’s commitment to fostering sustainable solutions. With its groundbreaking advancements in chemical recycling and dedication to a circular economy, this initiative sets a new benchmark for the global textile recycling landscape. As the project unfolds over the next four years, the world eagerly anticipates the profound positive impact it will have on the environment, economy, and the future of the fashion industry.









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