Microwave textile disassembly
Wear2 is a process for microwave textile disassembly, making it easy to debrand corporate clothing, remove labels from end-of-season stock, and prepare textiles like clothing, car seats and mattresses for recycling. The lack of effective disassembly technologies and absence of design protocols for handling clothing at end-of-life have, until now, acted as a barrier to a profitable, sustainable clothing operation.
Over the last four years, a new patent protected process capable of simply and automatically separating seams in textiles withou damaging the surrounding fabric has been developed by the wear2 team. The wear2 process, which is compatible with current manufacturing equipment, provides the clothing and fashion sectors with an opportunity to both enhance its competitiveness and reduce its environmental and societal burdens.
The innovative wear2 technology provides the capability to engineer garments that are durable in use but which can be easily disassembled with the application of a simple end-of-life treatment.
During garment manufacture, the wear2 process incorporates a unique yarn into the seams that are required to be separated at the garments end-of-life. Incorporation of the wear2 technology into garments allows zips, buttons, fastenings etc., that currently contaminate recycled fibres, to be be easily removed prior to garment recycling, without damaging the surrounding fabric.
The ability to economically recover pure fibre from disassembled garments opens the door for the clothing industry to re-use materials to supplement or replace virgin fibre in new garments, therefore realising savings on raw material costs, easing potential supply constraints and reducing environmental impact ina virtuous closed loop system. The potential benefits of wear2 from both an economic and environmental standpoint are large.
Currently, in the UK alone, around 1 million tonnes of clothing is ‘landfilled’ ever year due to its lack of recyclability. By adopting the wear2 process, this could be re-processed into new products, thus creating a major new profint centre.
This new disassembly process could reduce annual CO2 emissions by at least 800,000 tonnes, along with substantial savings in water and energy consumption. The microwave disassembly unit is capable of treating batches of 6 kg of clothing with cycle times of 30 seconds. This relates to a capacity of around 500 kg per hour.