The textile industry is the world’s 4th most polluting sector, generating 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 annually (10% of the global emissions) and 20% of water pollution, and is ranked as 4th in terms of resource needs. An EU citizen consumes approximately 26 kg of textiles and generates 11 kg of waste annually, yet only 1% of the textile production is recycled, largely because of the complexity of disassembly – a mandatory pre-recycling process.

Recycling clothes is a complicated business. Making fabrics new again isn’t the only challenge – the threads, zips, and buttons that hold them together need to be separated from the valuable recyclable fabric ahead of any recycling process. Multi-material textile products then become an end-of-life problem for the industry. Each material is unique and requires a specific recycling process. The different materials must be separated so that they can be used again in their pure, qualitative form. Efficient disassembly is a critical lever to unlock textile recycling. The costly complexity of most disassembly and recycling processes leads fashion brands to adopt polluting and unsustainable options, such as landfills and incineration, for the remaining 99%. Textile products are not designed for disassembly, and most solutions are inefficient, complicated, and expensive. Disassembly processes are done manually or mechanically, wasting up to 52% of the original fabric material. With the current difficulties in disassembling textile products and separating recyclable from non-recyclable content, the textile industry loses 432 billion euros worth of material every year. Resortecs simplifies textile recycling for the entire fashion industry with two eco-design solutions:

1 – Smart Stitch™:
a range of bio-based threads that disappear under very specific heat conditions. Fashion brands use the threads in the seams to attach the different components of textile products (e.g. zips, buttons, lining, and outer fabric). The threads look and perform just like regular threads: they can be washed, ironed, and tumble-dried. The magic happens when it’s time for repair or recycling: they disappear under heat, allowing the automatic sorting of recyclable and non-recyclable parts, sending each type of material to the appropriate waste stream.

2 – Smart Disassembly™:
industrial thermal systems specifically designed to make Smart Stitch™ threads disappear without damaging the fabrics of textile products. Sorters and recyclers use these systems to dismantle products five times faster than manual disassembly (a mandatory step ahead of the recycling of over 78% of the world’s fashion production). These systems have been specifically designed to consume very little energy, reusing the heat generated for their activity, and generating fewer CO2 equivalents. The magic behind this is the lack of oxygen inside the chambers, which allows the fabrics to withstand temperatures that would normally incinerate them, without damage. Smart Stitch™ allows the brands to make products designed for repair and recycling with a simple thread change. Smart Disassembly™ allows sorters and recyclers to automatically sort and remove the elements that would impede textile recycling.

Combined, these two innovations close the loop at the scale the industry requires and at the pace Earth needs.