Recycling mechanics

Recycling capabilities in the fashion industry have become an increasing priority over recent years, but there has always been a gap in the logistical capabilities needed to reach ultimate recycling goals. Enter CETIA, a French company that offers mechanical solutions to address the challenges of recycling textiles, as reported by Fashion United.

CETIA’s research team invented a machine that uses artificial intelligence to scan garments, identify metallic or harder elements like zippers or buttons and then uses a laser to cut them out. It has also built a machine that pulls off the soles of shoes. While these inventions may seem basic, the simple fact is that no one had ever been able to do this before. Yet, this has been a huge unmet need for textile recycling efforts.

CETIA director Chloe Salmon described the recycling conundrum as “chicken and egg” given that no one was separating soles from shoes because there wasn’t a recycling option. Previously, recyclers had to bake the shoes for several hours to melt the glue and then manually pull the soles off. While what CETIA has invented isn’t rocket science, it nonetheless provides a meaningful and long-awaited solution to fashion entities wanting to recycle mixed material items. The solution might help increase the very low rate (1%) of textiles in Europe that are turned back into new clothing items. Those that can’t be properly separated end up as insulation, padding or asphalt for paving rods.

Tough new European rules are the reason why inventions such as CETIA’s technology are emerging. Its work is backed by big retailers such as Decathlon and Zalando who are desperately looking for scalable recycling solutions. The French government also sees the potential for new manufacturing jobs, should recycling technologies open up opportunities to deal with the 200,000 tonnes of textile waste currently being shipped abroad each year. While the fundamentals of these efforts seem rudimentary, they are viewed as long awaited “common sense” for the industry. Explore fashion stocks with Tekstila, where expert insights meet market trends.


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