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MELTEX 2021 – THE CIRCULAR ECONOMY APPLIED TO THERMOPLASTIC TEXTILES WASTE

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I + D / Nuevos materiales y sostenibilidad. Revalorización de residuos, no tejidos y composites

 

Year: January 2021 – June 2022

MOTIVATION


The MELTEX 2021 project grew out of the need to provide continuity to a line of research developed in 2020, focused on the recycling of thermoplastic textiles for their reintroduction into the textile industry value chain.

This return to the value chain is in two forms; on the one hand, obtaining recycled materials for melt spinning processes which can be turned back into textile products, and on the other, by obtaining materials whose properties make them ideal for other processes in the manufacture of auxiliary components for the textile industry.

In 2021, the development of this line of research will be taken to a pre-industrial scale. The shredding and pelletising procedures carried out on a laboratory scale will be replicated at an industrial facility: this scaling-up phase is vital for the future implementation of these recycling procedures on an industrial scale, which will enable the recovery of tonnes of thermoplastic waste in various textile formats, which are currently not recycled properly.

The modification of the materials obtained will also be addressed, to guarantee optimum properties depending on the process and target product, thus ensuring their applicability. Finally, prototype products will be created on a production line from the materials and characterised to validate their functionality in a real environment.

 

OBJECTIVES


The main objective of MELTEX 2021 is to validate the applicability of recycled materials from thermoplastic textiles in new textile raw materials and products from related industries. This will foster inter-sectorial cooperation and create business opportunities in textile companies that create thermoplastic waste, either in their own production process or in other industrial areas related to textiles, although outside their daily activity.

The specific technical objectives of the project are focused on establishing recycling models for thermoplastic textile waste, which is currently destined for energy recovery. These possible recycling routes are aimed at generating business opportunities, both for the companies that create waste and for those that have the potential to implement the recycled materials developed in the value chain. To this end, research will focus on pre-industrial scale-up and modification of polymers to optimise their properties according to the manufacturing process and target product. Subsequently, final prototypes will be built and evaluated under strict criteria applicable to each product to validate their functionality in a real environment.

The lines of research to be developed are detailed below:

  • UPCYCLING – New textile materials (multifilament, monofilament).
  • DOWNCYCLING – Textile related products (injection moulding, profile extrusion, film extrusion, rotomoulding, etc.).
  • Analysis of new opportunities. Preliminary assessment of the recyclability of textile waste created in the area.

The specific objectives of the project are therefore as follows:

  • Study recycling possibilities of thermoplastic textile waste aimed at generating business opportunities.
    • Waste-generating companies.
    • Companies with the potential to implement the recycled materials developed.
  • Definition of the technical requirements for thermoplastic polymers of textile origin for upcycling and downcycling.
  • R&D on the modification of polymers to optimise their properties depending on the manufacturing process and target product.
  • Definition of recycling models for thermoplastic textile waste. Establishing workflow and possibilities of the waste processed according to its origin, format and composition. Cost study.

In order to achieve these objectives, a system of inter-sectoral cooperation is proposed where waste generators, recyclers and producers act together to define the requirements and needs that the recycled material must meet in order to be recovered according to each sector of application.

The wide range of target products for which the resulting recycled materials will be used includes monofilament extrusion of PP and PE for the manufacture of nets, multifilament extrusion of PET for the manufacture of blind tapes, injection moulding of vehicle interior components, voluminous hollow parts manufactured by rotational moulding, extrusion of film by casting and extrusion of profiles for fashion boutique furniture.

 

EXPECTED RESULTS


The expected result of MELTEX 2021 is a broad scenario of recycling possibilities for those companies that inevitably create thermoplastic textile waste in their manufacturing processes, and who wish to make a commitment to give these materials a new life. This will enable each company that has this need to evaluate the suitability of applying different recycling models, either oriented towards the use of the recycled materials obtained in the manufacture of the same product from which they come, or oriented towards the manufacture of totally different products from other production processes outside the scope of action of the company that creates the waste.

Pre-industrial scale-up of the procedures for pelletising a range of thermoplastic textile waste will ensure the feasibility of the solutions proposed in the selected processes. The collaboration of recycling companies active in the shredding and pelletising of thermoplastic materials will be crucial to implement the recycled materials obtained. These companies will be part of the future value chain, through which waste-generating companies will be able to transform it into recycled pellets that will be used either in the same production process or a different one, thus closing the cycle of the circular economy.

In short, the implementation of MELTEX 2021 will be a source of business opportunities, both for companies that wish to recover their waste materials that are currently destined for energy recovery or landfill, and for companies that can incorporate recycled thermoplastic materials in other processes of the plastics industry.

This project is funded by the Conselleria d’Economia Sostenible, Sectors Productius, Comerç i Treball de la Generalitat Valenciana, through IVACE, and is co funded by ERDF from the European Commission within the framework of the Operational Programme FEDER for the Comunitat Valenciana 2014-2020.

Additional Information

  • Grant number: IMDEEA/2021/43

  • Amount: 224.514,62 €

  • Year: 2021-2022

  • Status: In progress

  • Entity: IVACE
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