Textile Recycling Increases With Automated Sorting

The IVL Environmental Research Institute of Sweden is in a race against time to close the textile chain, and make it a circular economy. In an effort to do so, they have created an automated sorting machine, that will speed the process up, accurately.

Managing large streams of textile at one time, while effectively sorting through different types of textile, for different types of recycling, according to IVL’s Maria Elander, who stood at the helm of the project “SIPTex,” which launched in 2015.

Currently, store collected textiles are sorted manually. Sorting clothes and other textiles for recycling is a difficult task. This has been contributed to the growing amount of textiles, which contain mixed materials.

In order to manage a large amount of fabric when recycling, the automated process can make more quick work of the recycling task, with precision, as stated by Maria Elander. The SIPTex, is currently getting ready to enter the second phase at this time.

Of all the clothing and household textiles that are bought in Sweden, only around 20 percent are returned, to be recycled. According to research, an estimated 4.3 million tons of textile waste is located in Europe, and is used as landfill or burned. The hope to reduce the waste to 45,000 tons is what IVL hopes to accomplish.

During the first phase of the SIPHex, led by IVL research, the potential to sort, with an automated machine was examined. The project consisted of conducting a small scale testing technique, using fiber optic sensors that helped to differentiate the assorted type of materials.

This is similar to the type of technology that packages are sorted by. Based upon the project reports, SIPTex was able to prove that automated textile sorting has the potential to be very promising in the recycling industry.

The SIPTex project is composed of eleven partners, which include The IVL Environmental Research Institute of Sweden, different authorities, and participants from a variety of different of parts within the textile chain.

A sorting facility is expected to be leased and operated in Sweden for a year, and will handle and sort textiles collected from recycling centers in and around Stockholm and Malmo.


Leave a Comment