Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


Trash-2-Cash Report Summary

Project ID: 646226

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Trash-2-Cash (Trash-2-Cash: Designed high-value products from zero-value waste textiles and fibres via design driven technologies)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2016-11-30

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

The Trash-2-Cash project aims at giving a second life to used or discarded material from textile waste streams and recycled fibre reject from paper and packaging fractions. T2C strongly contributes to a radical change in the general view on these streams, from waste to a valuable material source. It also breaks down the barriers between designers and material scientists, making them join forces to work together on potential future products to promote material innovation and strenghten Europes creative industry. The vision within the project is that products should live in several life cycles, meaning that the designed products generated from this work within the project will be developed through a closed-loop perspective.

There is an urgent need for technical advancements in recycling of textiles. The textile industry, according to the Energy Administration Authorities of Europe and USA, is the 5th largest contributor to CO2 emissions in these countries, after primary metals, non-metallic mineral products, petroleum and chemicals. In 2008, the annual global textile production was estimated at 60 billion kilograms of fabric. The estimated energy and water needed to produce that amount of fabric is overwhelming: 1,074 billion of kWh of electricity or 132 million metric tons of coal, and between 6 and 9 trillion of litres of water. The European Community has limited the organic landfill with legislation to reduce the large waste generation, but it takes more than legislative measures to exploit this valuable resource.

The overall objective of T2C is to develop new materials and products via creative design from waste materials and industrial side or by-products from the textile and paper industries and to promote development within the creative sector by providing technology solutions for exploitation of waste streams and design for recycling.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The overall work during the first 18 months in T2C has been focused on setting up the planned activities and connecting the work packages in a beneficial way. Efforts have been made to align the three different streams within the project: Design Research Stream, Science and Technology Stream, and Manufacturing Stream, in order to be coherent and to work towards the same objective. The main activities for this are the regular project workshops that have taken place every 3 months. The workshops have been designed to facilitate active knowledge transfer, fruitful hands-on sessions with specific outcomes and constructive discussions.

At month 16 the first of three prototypes displaying the refinement stages of the materials was delivered. Prototype 1 takes the shape of regenerated fibres while Prototype 2 will be textiles from the regenerated fibres and Prototype 3 will be products based on the fibres and textiles from the project. Prototype 1 consists of several samples derived from different waste/recycled materials and regeneration processes. The prototypes are the result of the whole cross-disciplinary and cross-sectorial consortiums expert knowledge. They will be further improved during the next cycle of the project in order to refine the material innovation process. This will result in Prototype 2 in month 24.

The Science and Technology team has successfully prepared regenerated fibres from pre-consumer and post-consumer cotton and polyester. Attempts to degrade polyester and in a further step rehabilitate the polymer into a polyester quality suitable for fibre spinning has also been successful. An important step of the work is to collect, define and adapt the raw materials used to fulfil the quality requirements of the regeneration processes by utilizing a combination of different mechanical and chemical treatments. The refining sequences for the various raw materials, cotton and polyester, have been developed and the technical feasibility of sequences has been estimated. Cotton materials dyed with reactive dyes were able to be bleached with used refining sequences. Some materials have been available with some limitations.

For Prototype 2, a preliminary valorisation plan for regenerated cellulose and regenerated polyester has been defined as well as a preliminary finishing testing plan for regenerated cellulose and regenerated polyester. Discussions among the partners are ongoing to complete these plans are in progress. The organization for production of different typologies of samples has begun.

In order to assure an effective value chain for regenerated fibres, commercial technology for automatic sorting of textile waste has been tested and evaluated. One of the tasks in T2C deals with the online-sorting of mixed textile post-consumer waste to optimize the automatic sorting technologies to sort on fibre composition. The task objective is to test various sorting techniques available on the market in their present form and evaluate the technical potential in recognizing and sorting garments by their material contents. Clothing can be rather complex with many layers and attributes. In this evaluation only monolayer garment is to be considered. When there was doubt due to the fibre content of the textile, chemical analysis has been performed. This could be an effect of the recognition result, but also due to mislabelling of the garments. The evaluation results will be presented in a public report in March 2017.

The work performed during the first 18 months has successfully combined the knowledge of the three streams. It’s resulted in the prototype 1, which is connected to the first Milestone of the project. The design team, consisting of both academic and industrially connected designers, have refined the prototype material through an exchange with the Science and Technology team. The Design team also have had a two-sided exchange with the Manufacturing team. This team have started drawing up the manufacturing and showcase production during first cycle of the project. The Manufacturing team has been in continuous communication with the designers in order to adjust the design to production conditions and vice versa. Prototype 1 will be evaluated by LCA and LCC to facilitate communication of the potential of the product. A study on the perception by the potential consumer by the prototypes has been initiated through consumer behavioural research.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The processes developed in the project shows potential to be economically and sustainably feasible. The eco-fibres from recycled cotton fibres developed using environmentally friendly ionic solvents and bio-catalytic approaches have the potential of becoming a viable alternative to virgin cotton. The continuous inputs from both academic and business attached designers assure a fibre adapted to a market demand. Their work has resulted in several promising design concept that will be used in the development of future prototypes in the project or exploited by the consortium partners and third parties. Simultaneously the design driven material innovation methodology used in the process are being tested, evaluated and developed and constitutes a result with the potential of encourage a close cooperation and interaction between designer and manufacturers. New markets will open with manufacturing of designed objects with prominent consumer-related and sustainability properties. This design driven initiative will increase the value of the creative sector within Europe, also encourage new business/network opportunities between different countries in Europe.

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