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The industrial potential of open loop recycling to recover used household textiles

Open loop recycling: a promising way of recovery for the Textile sector. 


As the French textile industry’s eco-organization, one of Refashion’s missions is to accelerate textiles and footwear recycling. To do this, Refashion has studied the industrial potential of open loop recycling, i.e. the recovery of used household textiles for applications in sectors outside the textile industry.   


       One minute definition : what is open loop recycling?

Recycling is both a waste treatment method and a resource production method. In the hierarchy of treatment methods, it comes third after prevention and reuse.

In terms of sustainable resource management, the challenge is to preserve the intrinsic qualities of materials and their "noble" characteristics for as long as possible to maximise the number of cycles. Depending on the level of degradation, two types of recycling can be envisaged: 

  • closed-loop recycling: reuse of raw materials for the same purpose and use without functional loss of material. For example, using recycled textile fibres to produce new textiles for clothing, household linen and shoes.

  • open loop recycling: using recycled material for a different purpose, i.e. an application in industries outside the sector, as a substitute for virgin material, the aim being to limit the depletion of natural resources by exploiting what exists. In this case, we are talking about the use of recycled textile fibres to produce new products, outside the textiles, household linen and footwear sector.



Launch of two Working Groups to study the industrial potential of open loop recycling. 

To study the industrial potential of open loop recycling, two priority segments have been selected: 

  • Nonwovens for the Transport sector; 
  • Composites for the Sports and Leisure sector.


To study these two segments, Refashion launched two collaborative, multi-disciplinary and inter-industry Working Groups (WG) early 2020.  These WG have two objectives :

  • Establish open loop industrial recovery solutions for non-reusable textiles in France ;
  • Move from R&D to industrial pilots in order to produce and market innovative materials (in terms of functionality and recyclability) as of 2022.

​Each group is headed by an expert coordinator and includes all identified stakeholders, from R&D to marketing.  



       Focus on the Working Groups

Nonwovens WG : it aims to develop and market a high-performance insulating nonwoven made from post-consumer clothing for the Transport sector

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Composites WG : it aims to integrate materials from post-consumer non-reusable textiles into composite materials for the Sports and Leisure market. 

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