In the regional project Bio2HighTex, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is working together with partners from the textile chain on opportunities to reduce the use of fossil fuels (oil) and to jointly bring about innovative sustainable product solutions. This collaboration has enabled the development of products based on natural and/or recycled fibres, such as clothing, geotextiles and building materials. This project also provides opportunities for the regional economy in the east of the Netherlands.
More than six million tonnes of textiles are disposed of annually in the EU. Although recycling technologies are available for textiles based on mono-materials, mixed materials remain a challenge. In 2016, Wageningen University and Research (WUR) carried out an exploratory study into the possibilities for the reuse of textile waste in the production of new raw materials, preferably for textiles. This work showed the major social importance of finding a better, higher-quality alternative to the current processing of textile waste and the potential production of more sustainable textiles.
A unique aspect of the Bio2HighTex project is the combination and mutual reinforcing of agro-fibre raw materials (hemp and flax) and high-tech textile technology, with the aim of developing new sustainable materials.
In this project, Wageningen Food & Biobased Research is deploying its knowledge and expertise in the production and processing of fibre raw materials such as hemp and flax. This knowledge is a prerequisite for making the raw materials suitable for industrial use in textiles and building materials. Research is also being conducted into the technical feasibility of the recycling of mixed textiles, such as jeans or t-shirts, which are composed of synthetic polymers and cellulose.
The technological possibilities for achieving full reuse of raw materials will be identified on the basis of an analysis of the current state of affairs (literature and patents). The aim of the project is to recover the monomers together with a reusable cellulose raw material for reuse in new products. The first exploratory experiments have already been completed and, based on these, a more extensive investigation will be carried out into the possibilities of extracting synthetic polymers from mixed textiles.
An ERDF grant of two million euros has been given for this project.