The current garment manufacturing industry is ruled by an unsustainable model throughout its production cycles, turning precious resources into waste. Many in the industry still prefer to milk innovation for-profit rather than join forces to channel energies for a more sustainable future.
Contrary to widespread belief, a garment that is ‘designed to be recycled’ cannot always be returned into the loop or can only be recycled into an inferior (non-reusable) waste material.
KTC, together with the wear2wear consortium and some of its key partners, namely Sympatex, Schoeller, and Carl Weiske, is working on a pilot program to promote closing the loop.
The initial objective of this program is to manufacture ski rental clothing composed of 100% polyester. In order to meet the demanding requirements of fiber extrusion (fiber can then be turned back into yarn through mechanical recycling), the polyester requires a very high purity level.
Also necessary, is the research and development of 100% polyester alternatives to established functional trims and accessories. A switch to polyester doesn’t come without its drawbacks, and compromises for the sake of making the garment and all of its components fit for the recycling process.
The current phase involves analyzing all planned polyester mono-materials and components in the Weiske laboratories to identify potential contaminations from dyeing and finishing processes against the needed polyester base.
KTC is also testing waterless CO2 technologies for cleaning, and re-impregnation, but also dyeing and de-coloring before recycling. When fully established and scaled, these techniques would mark a quantum leap forward in reducing the overall footprint of the garment industry.
Another obstacle on this journey is overcoming the hurdle of producing enormous volumes to make the recycling process viable. To accommodate this, KTC and the wear2wear partners are building a toolbox of components and processes to establish a plug-and-play structure that will assist in making it easier for other brands to come aboard.
KTC is quietly confident that this joint effort, will not only make closing the loop an achievable goal but will also encourage several acquaintances to join us in implementing the changes required to minimize the footprint of our industry.