Polyester and textile maker Far Eastern New Century Corp (FENC, 遠東新世紀) yesterday unveiled the world’s first all-in-one chemical recycling solution for post-consumer waste textiles, which it said would support the circular economy and help maintain its leadership in smart textile innovation.
“The solution, FENC TopGreen rTex, closes the loop of current PET recycling, diverting what was once destined for landfills to value-added new consumer goods,” FENC president Eric Hu (胡正隆) told a news conference in Taipei.
Textile waste is a growing problem and the popularity of “fast fashion” has only exacerbated the problem, Hu said.
According to the US-based Council for Textile Recycling, the US generates 11 million tonnes of textile waste a year, with 85 percent of post-consumer textile waste ending up in landfills and just 15 percent reused or downcycled.
The firm’s new process can help recycle polyester from all types of used textiles, including mixed streams, FENC Research and Development, Innovation, Marketing and Partnership manager Jeffrey Hsu (許嘉夫) said.
Collected post-consumer textiles are separated without a need for additional decoloring or use of complex solvents, Hsu said.
The polyester is dissolved and the mixed polymers and dyestuffs are filtered out, he said, adding that cellulose isolated in the process is converted into energy-dense fuel rods which can generate electricity.
The company has a product line made from recycled PET bottles, which is used in a wide range of applications, from injection-molded products to footwear and clothing, Hu said.
The Taipei-based company supplies polyester-related materials to major global sports, outdoor, leisure and fast fashion brands.
Since 2015, FENC has collaborated with Adidas AG to commercialize trainers using recycled plastic dredged from the oceans to raise awareness of the environmental issue, Hu said.
The collaboration reprocessed more than 1,000 tonnes of marine waste last year and the volume is expected to grow to 1,600 tonnes this year.
The German brand is phasing out the use of virgin polyester in all shoes and clothing, and has committed to using only recycled plastics by 2024.
Recycled products accounted for 26 percent of FENC offering last year and their share is rapidly expanding, FENC Polyester Division manager Eva Luo (羅怡文) said.
A manufacturing facility in Japan is adding 50,000 tonnes of annual capacity by 2020 to meet rising demand ahead of the Tokyo Summer Olympics, Luo added.
FENC has also approved plans to build a plant in the Philippines that would add 36,000 tonnes of anjual capacity.
“Ever more consumers are willing to spend more on products that are friendly to the environment,” Hu said.
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