Siptex - textile sorting
Every year, 4.3 million tonnes of textile waste are landfilled or incinerated in the EU. More than 140,000 tonnes of new textiles are put on the Swedish market, but only just under five percent are recycled as material. We are about to change this.
A link has been made between textile collection and high-quality recycling. Siptex is the world's first automatic large-scale textile sorting plant, and will change the possibilities for recycling.
How Siptex functions
Automatic sorting in big scale
Siptex is the world's first large-scale facility of its kind. It sorts textiles by color and fiber composition using near-infrared light, which makes it possible to handle large flows and produce textile fractions that are adapted to different recycling processes.
A new link in the textile value chain
For textile recycling on a larger scale, consistent quality and large volumes are required. Today's manual sorting of textiles can not match the market's need for quality-assured products. Automated sorting is the link that is currently missing between collection and high-quality textile recycling.
Therefore, Siptex will contribute to increased circularity in the textile value chain and strengthen Sweden's position as a pioneer in innovation and circular economy.
Siptex sorting service
Siptex sorting service handles three categories of textile waste:
Textile from industy
Pre-consumer materials from industry, such as waste from production.
Pre-sorted post-consumer material of a specific product type, such as torn sheets or t-shirts.
Sorting residues from consumers and industry, such as garments that cannot be used again.
ReFab® recycling products
Sysav ReFab®, quality-assured recycling products with guaranteed fiber composition and color, adapted for various recycling processes. Examples of products:
- Cotton (of specific purity and color)
- Wool (of specific purity and color)
- Polyester (of specific purity and color)
- Viscose (of specific purity and color)
- Polyamid (of specific purity and color)
- Acrylic (of specific purity and color)
- Customized products: the plant can sort out fiber compositions tailored to the customer's requirements
About textiles and recycling
New life for used textiles
From an environmental point of view, reuse is a better alternative than both material recycling and incineration with energy recovery. Before disposing of textiles and recycling them, they should be used for as long as possible. Reuse provides great environmental benefits regardless of whether it takes place in Sweden or elsewhere in the world. A doubled lifespan of all textile products could reduce the climate impact by 47 percent.
Material recycling of textiles is divided into high-quality and low-quality form.
- High-quality recycling, fiber-to-fiber, means that you take care of the fibers so that they can become new fabric again. Fiber-to-fiber recycling can be done by chemical or mechanical processes.
- Low-value recycling means that the material is transformed into a product of lower quality, such as insulation, and cannot become new fabric again..
Chemical recycling means that the fibers in the textiles are broken down with the help of chemicals and then reunited through other processes. The new fibers can then be spun into new thread or become another material. The result is a high-quality material, which means that virgin fibers do not have to be added for the recycled material to have the same area of use as the original fiber.
An area in strong development
There are various chemical processes for this type of recycling, and much research is being done in this area. Textiles often consist of mixed materials, and then several techniques must be used. Simplified, it can be said that cotton fibers and cellulose-based synthetic fibers (viscose, lyocell, modal) dissolve, and synthetic polymer fibers (polyamide, polyester, polyurethane and acrylic) are melted down. In Sweden, there are a couple of facilities that recycle on a larger scale, including Renewcell. Chemical processes place specific demands on fiber content, therefore Siptex is expected to contribute primarily to this type of recycling.
Mechanical recycling means that the textiles are cut, torn and carded into an even fiber mass. This category also sometimes includes smelting processes that can be used to make new fibers from certain synthetic materials; since only heat is required in this method, it is considered mechanical. Molten plastic raw material is pressed out through a nozzle and forms fibers, so-called melt spinning.
Through mechanical recycling, the textile fibers are weakened and shortened, which gives a poorer result compared to chemical recycling methods. This means that textiles recycled through mechanical processes need to be mixed with virgin fibers to have sufficient quality to be used for, for example, clothing manufacturing.
Low-value recycling, also called downcycling, means that a material becomes a product of lower value than the original.
Textiles are used today, among other things, as rags, insulation and upholstery in car seats and noise barriers. How much environmental benefit this type of recycling has depends on the material that is replaced.
New markets for secondary textile raw material
Textile fiber as a secondary raw material could replace virgin material in many industries, not just the textile sector. Siptex will help to identify new markets and areas of use also for sorting residues. Textiles can, for example, be used as composite materials and become furniture and hangers.
About the project
SIPTex stands for "Swedish innovation platform for textile sorting" and will be the link that is currently lacking between textile collection and high-quality textile recycling.
Siptex is funded by Vinnova and is a step 3 project within the Challenge-driven innovation program. This step involves the establishment of the world's first automated sorting plant for post-consumer textiles on an industrial scale. The project is led by IVL Swedish Environmental Institute and is carried out together with a broad consortium consisting of Swedish fashion companies, research institutes, authorities and actors from different parts of the value chain for textiles.
Partners from the entire textile value chain
- Boer Group
- Gina Tricot
- Human Bridge
- IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute
- Kretslopp och Vatten
- Malmö Stad
- Röda Korset
- Stockholm Vatten och Avfall
The research project SIPTex
About the facility
This is how the facility works
Using near-infrared and visual spectroscopy (NIR / VIS), Siptex sorts textile waste by fiber type and color. The textiles are illuminated and the light is reflected in different ways depending on the material. Sensors detect and calculate the type of fiber. Compressed air blows the fabric so that it ends up in the right container. The plant can be programmed to sort out three different flows simultaneously.
- Capacity: 4,5 tonnes per hour (24 000 tonnes/year)
- NIR/VIS-machines: 4
- Conveyor: 260 meters
- Manufacturer: Stadler/Tomra
- Location: Bjurögatan 20, Malmö, Sweden