Visual and near-infrared spectroscopy might revolutionize textile recycling

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute
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IVL - Maria Elander

IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute is an investigation center that addresses environmental concerns by applied research and development in close collaboration with the industry (Avesta), combining interdisciplinary science and system thinking.

IVL has developed a new technology and innovative method fullfilling some textile recycling industry critical needs. This new technology can detect different types of fibres, such as cotton, wool, viscose, polyester and acrylic by means of visual (VIS) and near-infrared (NIR) spectroscopy.

This technology can bring about higher efficiency in textile sorting and collection and therefore, increased quality in resulting recycled products.

Main results

The technology is currently in testing phase (2017).

The potential for increasing textile recycling is enormous. Today, only about 5 per cent of the over 120 000 tonnes of new textiles put on the Swedish market every year is recycled. The textile sorting innovation platform now under development is intended to leverage a 45 000 tonnes textile recycling sorting capacity.

The idea is to create a sorting solution tailored to the needs of textile recyclers and the garment trade that will provide the missing link between textile collection and high-quality recycling.