Business Finland has granted Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto (LSJH) circular economy investment aid for building a full-scale end-of-life textile refinement plant in Topinpuisto in Turku.
When the plant is ready, Finland will be the first country in the world where post-consumer textiles are obtained nationwide for reuse and recycling.
Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto (LSJH) has received Business Finland’s circular economy investment aid for building a full-scale end-of-life textile refinement plant in Topinpuisto in Turku. The investment is approximately 20.5 million euros, and the share of the circular economy investment grant is approximately 5.2 million euros.
“The build of the end-of-life textile refinement plant will make it possible for Finland to be the first country in the world where post-consumer textiles are obtained nationwide for reuse and recycling”, LSJH’s CEO Jukka Heikkilä says.
The refinement plant will process household end-of-life textiles that the local waste management companies have collected in collaboration from their respective regions. LSJH is responsible for organising the collection within Southwest Finland as well as for the coordination and development of the national operations model for collection of post-consumer textiles, together with other municipality owned waste management companies in Finland.
In the end-of-life textile refinement plant post-consumer textiles are sorted in a partly automated processing line into different material types, some of which will be directed to be reused as such, while others will be mechanically processed into recycled fibre. The fibre can be used as raw material in new products, such as thread, various non-woven fabrics, insulation materials and fillings, acoustic boards, filter fabrics and composites.
“All Finnish municipalities and their waste management companies can equally deliver their post-consumer textiles to be processed at the Topinpuisto plant. Likewise, all businesses have an equal opportunity to use the recycled raw material produced at the refinement plant in the production of their own products, Heikkilä says.
The domestic textile ecosystem could create as many as 17,000 new jobs
A preliminary plan for an end-of-life textile refinement plant was created as part of the investment plan.
“Next, we will prepare the environmental permit application and the building plans needed. According to estimates, we can start building next year. The aim is to have the plant operating in 2025”, Heikkilä contemplates.
The refinement plant is estimated to employ approximately 100 people by 2025. The employment effects are manifold in the end product market of the opened recycled fibre. Based on the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland’s calculations, the new domestic textile ecosystem is estimated to create as many as 17,000 new jobs in Finland.
Mechanical fibre opening of end-of-life textiles is piloted in Paimio
Currently, post-consumer textile refinement is being developed at LSJH’s industrial scale testing facility in Paimio. The plant started operating in November 2021. Post-consumer textiles collected from the regions of 10 municipal waste management companies, are already processed in Paimio. The experiences from the pilot line in Paimio will be utilised in the planning and advancement of the Topinpuisto refinement plant.
“We have already gained a lot of information about what needs to be considered in the construction of the full-scale plant. When creating something totally new, such as a process for utilizing post-consumer textiles as raw material, it is very useful to be able to first pilot the process on a large scale like this”, says Marko Kokkonen, the project manager for the end-of-life textile refinement plant.
“Our aim is to create new domestic production chains around the recycling of end-of-life textiles. For this, particularly further processors of recycled fibre are needed. At the Paimio pilot line, we can produce different fibre raw materials sorted by material to meet the various requirements of companies and thus support their product development. We hope to see bold initiatives in terms of new uses for end-of-life textile fibre”, Kokkonen adds.
LSJH has been establishing utilisation solutions for end-of-life textiles since 2012.
Textile ecosystem assessments have been done jointly by higher education institutions, research institutions, waste management companies and numerous private companies. The broad collaboration and prior assessments including funded projects, have created the basis for the realisation of the refinement plant project.
“The performance of the Lounavoima waste-to-energy plant for non-recyclable residual waste that began operating last year and the savings brought by it are also cornerstones for the end-of-life textile refinement plant and the development of the textile ecosystem in Finland”, Heikkilä states.
Source: Southwest-Finland Waste Management