Our latest Zenit Talks was all about sustainable solutions for textile waste. We invited Stefan Poldrugac, Business Developer at Sysav, who is currently working on Sysav’s project ‘Siptex’. Siptex stands for ‘Swedish innovation platform for textile sorting’ and is the world's first large-scale facility of its kind. It sorts textiles by color and fiber composition using near-infrared light, which makes it possible to handle large quantities and to produce textile fractions that are adapted to different recycling processes.
We asked Stefan what triggered Sysav to start this project, and he explained that textiles are produced in massive quantities all over the world and that much of it ends up in different landfills as waste. Only a fraction is reused. We wish to believe that all our clothes that are given away to second-hand finds a new home, but unfortunately most of it is never bought. All garments not sold in Sweden are shipped to another country in Europe, and so the spiral continues from country to country, with the last resort being the landfill or the incinerator.
Every year, 4.3 million tonnes of textile waste are landfilled or incinerated in the EU. More than 140,000 tonnes of new textiles are put on the Swedish market, but only just under five percent are recycled as material. We are about to change this.
For an outsider looking in, the solution may seem easy. Why don’t we just press all fabrics together and make new things out of it?
This is where fibers should be brought to attention. As mentioned earlier, Siptex is the first facility to sort and recycle textiles based on fiber, and are doing so because otherwise the fabrics won’t pass a quality check. The dominating need from vendors and companies is that they need pure fabrics in order to produce their products correctly based on quality demands.
A guest from the talk asked Stefan what fiber goes to which industry. The fashion industry generally demands the use of pure fabrics to meet the high quality standards and so this is where most of the pure textiles go. Mixed fiber textiles can go to less demanding products such as car upholstery or soundproofing equipment.
For this system to work, Siptex needs to get the fabrics from somewhere. We can’t only collect fabrics from one focused area, it needs to concern the whole world chain. An active collaboration needs to happen where everyone involved collects their waste and connects to one of many global collecting actors. Right now Siptex has many partners to support the demand for fabric and they get textile from industry and municipalities, mainly Scandinavia.
Stefan explains that the demand for reused or recycled fabrics is big. Large corporations want to be able to buy and use the product, however a big hindrance has stopped it from happening. The issue is rooted in quality demands. Siptex’s products are going to be tested against standards that allow the material to go into production.
Big thanks to Stefan for an interesting talk and discussion about the work with Siptex. We got some truly interesting insights on how the textile recycling process looks like. Remember, Sysav’s Siptex is the first facility in the world to sort textiles based on fiber on a larger scale.
Key-note from the talk: Consumers are generally the ones that set the pace in businesses by wanting, needing or demanding something. However, in crucial matters such as our planet's future, it’s crucial if the businesses and decision makers take it on themselves to actually begin the work, and then let the consumers follow.
What can we do to keep up in a forever changing business? At Zenit Design, our holistic approach to the business leaves us with a desire and responsibility to be up to speed in many areas, whether it's sustainability, digitalization, human behaviors or medical devices.
Through our 27 years of experience, we know that an important way to gain knowledge is to talk to leading experts. So, every now and then we invite different experts from various businesses to talk about their current adventures. We invite people not to lecture, but to open up a dialogue. This is where our guests are a huge asset to achieve a valuable discussion, sharing and contributing their personal experiences and thoughts across business boundaries.