From waste to fashion: Recycling polyester

How can one industry’s waste become another’s resource? Together with Swedish clothing company Filippa K and privately owned industrial group Axel Johnson International, Axfoundation hopes to develop a new circular ecosystem for polyester. Discarded straps and round slings from heavy industry can get a new life in fashion.

From waste to fashion: Instead of burning straps consisting of 100 percent polyester, they can be turned into PET pellets used in for examples buttons.

From waste to fashion: Instead of burning straps consisting of 100 percent polyester, they can be turned into PET pellets used in for examples buttons.

“Worn-out straps and round slings for transport and heavy lifting might seem a world away from fashion, but the two industries have one thing in common: the use of virgin polyester as a key material. Due to the significant volumes of discarded polyester and an increasing demand for recycled polyester in fashion, we see great potential in a larger scale circular model.” Hanna Skoog, Program Director, Circular Economy, Axfoundation

The Issue

Plastics have become one of the greatest environmental challenges of our time. Economic development is driving increased demand for these highly functional and inexpensive materials, but unfortunately most of the production and consumption patterns of plastics are linear with only a tiny proportion of plastics being recycled after use. Circular business models and new avenues for increased material recycling play an increasingly important role in meeting future needs while addressing the growing problem of plastic waste.

Our Solution

The project “From waste to fashion” explores the opportunity to take one industry’s waste, straps and round slings from Axel Johnson International, and turn it into another’s resource, polyester for Filippa K, by creating a new circular ecosystem for this material. As part of this journey, the market potential is explored by reaching out to potential buyers and end users of the recycled material to evaluate its contribution.

Results

Together with Filippa K’s polyester supplier, the project partners jointly developed a successful proof of concept in 2018 and mechanically turned the worn-out polyester straps into PET pellets. The concept showed substantial recycling potential of the material and the first trial of the recycled raw material has already been used for sample testing for a product line from Filippa K. Currently, Axfoundation together with project partners is focusing on scaling up the initiative by a consortium set up, involving stakeholders from every step in the value chain. Axfoundation is also building the business case for the collection and handling of the waste materials.

Learn more in Axfoundation Progress Report 2020

Projects within Circular Economy

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