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Recycled can be better than new

In some countries, the average consumer throws out over 35 kilograms of clothes every year, and until recently most of it was simply sent to a landfill or burned for energy. Now, researchers and companies are developing better ways to recycle textiles. 

Photo: Mikko Raskinen / Aalto University

One key initiative bringing companies and research institutions together to work on this challenge is the Finix project at Finland’s Aalto University. Finix brings together large and small companies, start-ups from textile, forest, and waste management industries, along with nongovernmental organizations and policymakers, to co-create a more sustainable textile system with a solid scientific basis. 

Lindström Service Concept Designer Lyydia Pertovaara explains, “We took part in the Finix project because we wanted to make better use of the material left after our towel rolls have completed their service. Lindström’s cotton towel rolls can be washed and reused up to 100 times, drying hands around 10,000 times over its life cycle. The quantity of waste was large and of uniform quality, so it was great material for the study”. 

The collaboration made use of Ioncell, a method developed for producing high-quality textile fiber from recycled materials, and the tensile strength of fibers created is up to 2.5 times more than that of cotton. The Ioncell method has previously produced strong fibers, but the strength now obtained surprised even the researchers. The excellent results also mean that towels made from the recycled Ioncell fibers could be recycled not only once but several times, further improving the sustainability of the process. 

Lindström Group