German start-up invents method to recycle polyester from textiles

German start-up invents method to recycle polyester from textiles 953 375 flustix


Polyester-containing blended textiles are widespread, but also problematic – because until now, there has been no practical way to separate and recycle blended fabrics. That could now change: A German start-up has for the first time presented a technology that can be used to produce new polyester yarn from used clothing.

“This is a breakthrough. We can avoid huge amounts of waste”

“This is a great breakthrough for us and the textile industry. In the future, we can save huge amounts of fossil raw materials and energy and avoid waste,” says Carsten Eichert, managing partner of Rittec Umwelttechnik from Lüneburg (Lower Saxony). Currently, the company is working with partners from the textile industry and the recycling industry to “use our technology on an industrial scale,” says Eichert.

Highest quality recycled polyester yarn

To obtain new polyester yarn from the blended fabric of used textiles, the old fabric must be broken down into its components. According to Rittec, the new method achieves this in 95 percent of the cases – and does so without a great deal of energy. “The selective breakdown of polyester into its basic building blocks takes place at less than 160 degrees Celsius,” Rittec explains. “The process, which is both ecologically and economically efficient, eliminates impurities and produces new chemicals that are used in the production of new polyester fibers. These fibers have the same quality as virgin material.”

Technology reduces CO2 emissions by 60 percent

The process also works with low-grade packaging waste

The technology also works for recyclables that previously could not be recycled. In particular, colored and multilayer packaging (such as cold cuts) ended up in incineration if the peel was not separated from the film before being thrown away. With the new technology Rittec is already internationally on the road: in Brazil, where disposable packaging is often still landfilled, the process was presented and won the founder award “Startups Connected 2022”, which is considered a door opener to the Brazilian market..

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Image Credits: Rittec Umwelttechnik