IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute

With the Project:

The project SIPTex is the world's first automated sorting plant for post-consumer textiles on an industrial scale, established in the city of Malmö, Sweden. SIPTex will connect a link between textile collection and high-quality textile recycling, a link that is currently lacking. The project is led by IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and is carried out together with a consortium of 20 partners. The motivation to start the project was to develop automated textile sorting to generate high-quality recycling products and thereby matching the market demand for fiber-to-fiber recycling. The construction of a textile sorting and innovation facility was initiated in order to contribute to increased resource efficiency, new business opportunities and green growth in Sweden. From the year 2016 to 2018, a pilot scale sorting plant was established where around 700 tons of used textiles were sorted and will scale up to a full capacity of 24,000 tons annually.


More than four million ton of textile waste is landfilled or incinerated in the European Union annually. Globally, the amount is almost 40 million tons. In Sweden, more than 140,000 tons of new textiles are put on the market each year, but just under five percent are recycled. Globally, less than 1% of the textiles are recycled in a closed loop. The collection systems for used textiles are fairly fragmented in Sweden, and only about 20% of the consumed textile is collected for recycling. Today's manual sorting of textiles is not able to match the market's need for quality-assured products. There is a gap between collection and high-quality recycling.


SIPTex is a new step in the textile value chain which creates conditions for increased resource efficiency and profitability in the management of increasing amounts of collected textile waste. The project will develop automated textile sorting to generate high-quality recycling products with guaranteed fiber composition and color, adapted for various recycling processes, and thereby matching the market demand for fiber-to-fiber recycling. In addition, it will provide access to customized raw material for recyclers and access to large quantities of recycled textile fibers of high and consistent quality for producers. Once the project is completed, the expected effects after five years are: The amount of recycled textile waste in Europe will increase from the current 500,000 tons to 750,000 tons annually. The use of recycled fibers in new textiles will increase by at least 20%. An annual automated sorting capacity corresponding to at least 125,000 tons of textile waste will be established in Europe. In addition, an ecosystem of actors will be established who refine and use recycled products from automated sorting. Instruments are introduced for more circular textile cycles and strategies for risk-free use of recycled textile fibers.


SIPTex is the world's first large-scale commercially operated facility of its kind. Using near-infrared and visual spectroscopy, SIPTex sorts textile waste by fiber type and color. The textiles are illuminated and the light is reflected in different ways depending on the material. Sensors detect and calculate the type of fiber. Compressed air blows the fabric so that it ends up on a cleaning conveyer belt where each piece is controlled. The plant can be programmed to sort out three different product flows simultaneously, as well as one cleaning step for higher quality. Besides, the sensors can be programmed to sort a high number of combinations of color and fabric.



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