Together with our project partners, we developed, optimised, and implemented the Fibersort technology at Smart Fibersorting's facility. Throughout the project, over 1,000 tonnes of post-consumer textiles were sorted for recycling. Capacity was created to sort through ~900 kg of textiles per hour using an automated feed-in system.
Circle Economy led the project research into the composition of post-consumer textiles—what are they made out of?—and the end-markets for the Fibersort outputs—what recycling technologies could process and recover these materials?. Between July 2019 and March 2020, we also led the illustration of the Fibersort's potential through different case studies with Cirkel Waarde, Procotex, Texaid, Worn Again, the Salvation Army, Loop.a life, and Gap Inc. All final reports are available on the project’s website, or below:
Throughout the project, we also engaged with 378 industry stakeholders. These recyclers, brands and retailers have now started to assess the potential use of the Fibersort outputs as feedstock for new products containing recycled content, with one brand—Loop.a.life—already using recycled Fibersorted textiles as input for their products.
Between July 2019 and March 2020, we also identified and guided these stakeholders through key barriers and opportunities to close the loop on textiles. These are available on the project’s website, and were also shared through a public webinar, a recording of which can be found on the Circle Economy Youtube page.
Between July 2019 and March 2020, we drafted policy recommendations for local, national and the European government to show which instruments they have at their disposal to accelerate the adoption of automated sorting technologies like the Fibersort, and provided them with guidance on the different barriers and opportunities that exist to close the loop on textiles. These policy recommendations were discussed with European Commission delegates, and are also available on the project’s website. Various government representatives also attended the public webinar that marked the end of the project, where these recommendations were also shared.
The Fibersort technology garnered a lot of attention from both niche and mainstream media throughout the years, with over 56 press mentions that we are aware of. A selection of noteworthy media coverage can be found below:
Now that the technology to automatically sort textiles based on their composition and colour is there, the use of its outputs to turn post-consumer textiles into new textiles can scale. Whilst the Interreg-funded project has ended, the project partners, each in their respective role, continue their efforts to raise appetite within the industry to use Fibersort outputs as feedstock for recycling. Circle Economy continues to leverage the project’s insights and network to accelerate the transition to a zero waste textile industry.
To date, the coalition has worked on the case of ‘Road-as-a-Service’: a pilot project to build a circular road, whereby the Dutch province of Overijssel is the legal owner of the road, while the contractor, Dura Vermeer, retains economic ownership of the raw materials in the constructed road.
Through this model, contractors like Dura Vermeer can be incentivised for more sustainable construction, maintenance and harvest of roads.
The Coalition’s work has enabled Dura Vermeer to gain more insight into these models entail from a financial and accounting perspective. Since then, they have also taken this project forward with other governmental bodies, and learnings from the project were shared in a whitepaper that was consulted over 500 times.
The second case of the Coalition is looking at Facades-as-a-Service and a whitepaper will be published in September 2020. The Coalition will start a new case in August and another one in November. The four cases in total will cover a diverse set of reporting challenges in the circular economy. In 2021 the learnings from the cases will be aggregated in an overview paper: “Taking stock and looking ahead in the role- and challenges of accounting in the circular economy”. For updates, sign up here.