Digital technologies as enabler of a resource-efficient circular economy: pilot test in the B2B textile industry
Production of textiles from fresh fibres implies environmentally harmful exhaust air and waste water emissions in fibre production and textile finishing. At the same time, these processes consume enormous amounts of water, pesticides and fertilisers in cotton cultivation as well as fossil fuels in synthetic fibre production. One solution to avoid these negative environmental effects is to use recycled textile fibres.
The joint project DiTex, which is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, is a feasibility study testing recycled workwear and bed linen made of recycled fibres and evaluating their quality, resource and sustainability effects. The aim is to generate transferable know-how and to publish it in order to conserve resources and increase productivity in the rapidly growing textile sector.
A precondition for the recycling of textiles is to know exactly which components are contained in the fabrics. In work clothing similar textiles are used in large quantities, which can be an optimal starting point for high-quality recycling and closed material cycles. The idea is that discarded garments or other textiles such as towels and bed linen serve as raw material to obtain fibres for new fabrics of the same quality. In comparison to buying textiles, resource-efficient use of materials can also be supported by a textile rental/leasing business model.
The project develops product design processes for high-quality textile recycling, pilots three textile product collections made from recycled fibres together with textile companies and tests circular business models in a one-year test run with large-scale consumers, for example in the health sector. The textiles will be equipped with an "intelligent label" from the start-up circular.fashion, which stores relevant fabric parameters and completed laundry and recycling cycles.
The work in the DiTex project is flanked by market dialogues in which players in industry discuss various topics such as product requirements, recycling capacities or sustainability certifications. The aim is to establish a stakeholder network for textile recycling and to offer commercially the market-ready and recyclable product designs in a wider range of products after successful testing.
Within the framework of the project, ifeu is preparing comprehensive life cycle assessments and investigates the complete life cycle of conventional and recycled textiles - from production to disposal, including all environmental aspects along the value chain.
Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung, BMBF), Förderkennzeichen 033R228
Institut für ökologische Wirtschaftsforschung GmbH, Koordinator