RECIMAP project: recycling blended cotton and polyester fabric waste

RECIMAP project
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Fabric waste containing polyester and cotton is widely used in the textile industry. However, due to that the fact it's blended it's often incinerated or landfilled at the end of its useful life, because it's difficult to separate and recycle using conventional methods.

The RECIMAP project, led by the Bespoke Factory Group, is endeavouring to find a solution to this problem which promotes a sustainable circular economy in this already large and growing sector. 

Research is focusing primarily on an innovative recycling pathway that transforms this complex waste into high-quality recycled materials and lactic acid, used to make polylactic acid (PLA).

RECIMAP is working on the selective separation of cotton and polyester blends through the synthesis and use of ionic liquids - a more environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional solvents. The polyester fraction is recycled using mechanochemical techniques to obtain recycled polyester, while the cotton fraction is used in the production of lactic acid via a lactic acid fermentation process.


Main results

The RECIMAP project, which is receiving funding from the EU, has identified a new recycling approach that:

  • recovers complex textile waste, and
  • generates high-quality recycled materials with significant economic value.

This includes: 

  • recycled polyester, which has a lower carbon footprint than virgin polyester, and
  • lactic acid, an essential component in PLA production.