A new recycling technique similar to the way people recycle papers can make used clothes into reusable fibers. A research team is going to present on Thursday the new process that can recycle cotton-polyester clothes into lyocell-like fibers. This recycling technique is going to be the highlight of the 253rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. The ACS is the largest scientific group in the world.
According to Simone Haslinger, there are a few clothes being recycled as rags but a majority are ending up in landfills. This means that without proper recycling technique, greenhouse gasses are released when textiles degrade. Haslinger also stressed the lacking cotton fields because most arable lands were used to produce food, making fibers a scarcity.
The efforts for new clothes recycling technique emerges after the textile industry themselves admit that only small percentage are recycled, according to PhysOrg. Making some excess textiles into rags or shredding them for carpets is not an ideal way to recycle. Haslinger stressed that while plausible, this recycling technique will result to the fibers ending up in the landfills anyway.
Herbert Sixta of the Aalto University supports Haslinger's recycling technique. He said that not only that used clothes were spun into new fibers, but these are even stronger than the native fibers. Meaning, dissolving clothes in chemicals and spinning them into new fibers are resulting to better threads, the Snaxzer said.
Sixta championed the research for new clothes recycling techniques. Previously, he dissolved cellulose from wood pulp by using an ionic liquid. They found out that this method produces fibers that are stronger than the commercially available viscose.
From this recycling technique, Sixta and Haslinger are hoping to use ionic liquid to separate the polyester from cotton. Afterward, it will then be possible to spin fibers out of the cellulose solution. The finished product - clothes that are eco-friendly and can be spun over and over again. As a bonus, the team is also studying the possibility of reusing dyes from recycled clothes.