Adidas and H&M Group are among a host of fashion and textile firms to have teamed up for an EU-funded sustainable fashion project announced in late November, which aims to develop a circular economy for clothing that would result in old garments and fibers being recycled into new items for major high street brands.
Over three years, the New Cotton Project will see textile waste collected and sorted via consumer apparel take-back programs, then regenerated into cellulose-based textile fibers by Finnish biotechnology specialist Infinited Fiber Company, the 12 project partners confirmed.
The resulting fiber will be used to create different types of fabrics for clothing that are designed, manufactured and sold by global sportswear brand Adidas and retail companies in the H&M Group, they explained.
The "world first" project is being led by Infinited Fiber Company, alongside a consortium of 11 other companies and organizations spanning the entire supply chain, including manufacturers Inovafil, Tekstina and Kipas, which will use old garments to produce yarns, woven fabrics and denim, respectively.
The New Cotton Project was a direct response to major and growing environmental problems in the textile industry relating to the production of raw materials such as cotton, viscose and fossil-based fibers such as polyester.
Textile recycling specialist Frankenhuis, meanwhile, has been tasked with sorting and pre-processing the textile waste, and South-Eastern Finland University of Applied Sciences (Xamk) aims to develop a technical solution for the continuous processing of textile waste fibers for pre-treatment, they said.
In addition, Revolve Waste has been appointed to collect and manage data on textile waste to estimate feedstock availability across Europe, while RISE — Sweden's state-owned research institute — has been brought on board to conduct sustainability analyses and manage eco-labelling for garments created through the project.
Finally, sustainable fashion platform Fashion for Good has been tasked with leading stakeholder co-operation and communications efforts, with branding support from Finland's Aalto University and Infinited Fiber Company.
Petri Alava, co-founder and CEO of Infinited Fiber Company, said the New Cotton Project was a direct response to major and growing environmental problems in the textile industry relating to the production of raw materials such as cotton, viscose and fossil-based fibers such as polyester.
By developing a system to replace some need for virgin fiber and materials, he said the project was "breaking new ground when it comes to making circularity in the textile industry a reality." "The enthusiasm and commitment with which the entire consortium has come together to work towards a cleaner, more sustainable future for fashion is truly inspiring," he added.