EU grants biggest funding to date to Södra and Lenzing to scale up recycling of blended textile waste
10 million euros goes to the innovative, first-of-a-kind industrial-scale system OnceMore.
By JOHAN MAGNUSSON
June 19, 2023
Every year, 5.8 million tons of textiles, or 11 kg per person, are wasted in the EU, and consumption is predicted to increase 60 per cent by 2030 compared with today. Only 1 per cent of the world’s textile waste is recycled.
In its largest funding ever, EU LIFE, administered through the European Climate, Infrastructure and Environment Executive Agency (CINEA), has granted 10 million Euro for the joint project LIFE TREATS (Textile Recycling in Europe AT Scale), to scale up OnceMore. In collaboration between Swedish forest industry group Södra and Austrian company Lenzing, the project focuses on textiles that cannot be reused in any other way, aiming to give these fibre resources a high-quality second life and prevent downcycling, landfill, or incineration. The LIFE TREATS project also includes a scaling up of the OnceMore process at Södra’s mill in Mörrum, Sweden (pictured above). The plant that will be built will combine 50 per cent recycled content with 50 per cent renewable wood from sustainable forestry in Sweden and will be capable of processing 50,000 tons per year of blended post-consumer textile waste, meaning different colours and materials, to produce 60,000 tons per year of textile pulp.
— As the first project of its kind at large scale, LIFE TREATS will open new circular business opportunities and increase the proportion of recycled fibres used in new clothing, says Sonja Zak, Head of Textile Sourcing & Cooperations at Lenzing Group, continuing,
— Addressing the textile waste problem requires a systematic approach alongside industrial-scale technological solutions. This project, therefore, seeks an integrated approach to enable real change and reduce the textile industry’s adverse environmental and social effects in the EU and beyond.
— With the help of this significant funding, we’re ready to provide one of the main solutions in terms of chemical recycling and become the enabler for the circular textile economy, says Åsa Degerman, Manager OnceMore by Södra. While highly-developed systems exist within Europe for collection and sorting of used textiles, these are mainly dedicated to the second-hand business. Upcoming legislation such as the EU’s Waste Framework Directive, Extended User Responsibility, the decline in second-hand export markets and an observed reduction in the quality of collected textiles, point to significant changes in the textile-waste handling environment.
The proposed project will allow handling of a wide variety of complex post-consumer coloured textiles containing a mix of cotton, polyester, and other components including elastane. It involves stakeholders throughout the textile circular value chain, from raw material, through manufacturing, distribution, collection, and recycling. The project kicks off in Q3 this year and continues for four years.