25. Jul 2022

The next step in fibre-to-fibre polyester recycling – the Fibre Consortium

The next step in fibre-to-fibre polyester recycling – the Fibre Consortium

Carbios (Saint-Beauzire, France), a pioneer in the development of enzymatic solutions dedicated to the end-of-life of plastic and textile polymers, has signed an agreement with On (Zurich, Switzerland), Patagonia (Ventura, CA, USA), PUMA (Herzogenaurach, Germany), and Salomon (Annecy, France), to develop solutions that will enhance the recyclability and circularity of their products.

An important element of the two-year deal will be to speed up the introduction of Carbios’ unique biorecycling technology, which constitutes a breakthrough for the textile industry. Carbios and the four companies will also research how products can be recycled, develop solutions to take-back worn polyester items, including sorting and dismantling technologies, and gather data on fibre-to-fibre recycling as well as circularity models.

The challenge the four brands share, is that their ambitious sustainable development goals can only partially be met by conventional recycling technologies which mostly target bottle-to-fibre recycling. Future regulations will require more circularity in packaging and textile. Yet the market consensus is that there will soon be a shortage of PET bottles, as they will be used for circular production methods in the Food & Beverage Industry. Furthermore, there are voices within the recycling industry that say downcycling (bottle-to-fibre) is not truly circular and that for a proper circular economy bottles should be recycled into bottles, fibres into fibres.

Carbios’ innovative process constitutes a real technological breakthrough for the recycling of polyester (PET) fibres, which are widely used in apparel, footwear, and sportswear, on their own or together with other fibres. PET polyester is the most important fibre for the textile industry with 52 mil. tonnes produced, even surpassing cotton at 23 mil. tonnes. The biorecycling process uses an enzyme capable of selectively extracting the polyester, recovering it to recreate a virgin fibre. This revolutionary technology makes it possible to recover the PET polyester present in all textile waste that cannot be recycled using traditional technologies.

PET plastics and fibres are used to make everyday consumer goods such as bottles, packaging, and textiles. Today, most PET is produced from fossil resources, then used and discarded according to a wasteful linear model. By creating a circular economy from used plastics and fibres, Carbios’ biorecycling technology offers a sustainable and more responsible solution.

Emmanuel Ladent, Chief Executive Officer of Carbios, said, “This Consortium model has proved to be very efficient based on the success of the milestones previously achieved in packaging. We are very pleased to partner with these prestigious brands, On, Patagonia, PUMA, and Salomon. Our common goal is to contribute to reducing the environmental impact of the textile industry by offering an industrial solution to recycle polyester fibres and help our partners to meet their sustainable development goal”. AT


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