Coming Full Circle: Innovating towards Sustainable Man-Made Cellulosic Fibres
The MMCF industry currently stands at a critical inflection point; without immediate action the continued irresponsible logging of forests and discharge of hazardous chemicals will damage ecosystems, threaten livelihoods and have irreversible effects on our climate. Having said that, when approached with a path to conserving ancient and endangered forests and circularity in alternative fibre sourcing, MMCF provides an opportunity to divest from oil-derived polyester and water-depleting cotton. Visions for this future system are emerging – mission-driven expert organisations are creating the path for the wider industry to follow. Central to that journey is the scaling of innovation in textile-to-textile recycling. Through this technology, there lies the ability to transform existing textile waste into regenerated fibres of virgin-like quality. This reveals a unique possibility to tackle two of the problem areas with one stone; alleviating the reliance on virgin input and reducing the amount of textile waste being sent to landfill/incineration.
The promising innovation in chemical recycling of textiles is emerging and growing in significance; however, it cannot operate as siloed success stories. More needs to be done to engage the wider industry and move the needle towards a more circular industry. The Full Circle Textiles Project aims to bring together relevant stakeholders within a consortium to provide structure to the innovation process, whilst giving innovators an opportunity to refine their offering through industry support and expertise. Whilst the aspiration for the Full Circle Textiles Project is to enable scaling of the cellulosics chemical recycling industry, it is clear that such a large endeavour cannot be achieved by one consortium project alone.
A concerted, industry-wide effort is required to provide the incentive and financial means needed to accelerate the transformation to sustainable and closed-loop processes. Fashion for Good, through the Full Circle Textiles Project, hopes to inspire other stakeholders to pilot, invest and ultimately secure offtake with chemical recycling innovators, thus catalysing the transformation to a truly circular economy.