Textile recycling rethought: Innovative chemical process enables upcycling of old clothing.
TechVision Fonds I, together with High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) and a business angel, are the first investors to invest in EEDEN. The startup from Moenchengladbach, Germany has developed an innovative process for the sustainable and environmentally friendly recycling of clothing and other textile products. With the financing, EEDEN plans to further expand their R&D-activities and to build up initial production capacities.
“With its process, EEDEN addresses the major problem of cotton shortage in the clothing industry. Since only a fraction of textiles are currently recycled and made into new clothing, high resource losses occur. At the same time, the demand for cotton is increasing rapidly due to the growing world population and trends such as fast fashion. EEDEN’s technology counters these developments by enabling resource-saving and environmentally friendly textile recycling”, Bernhard Kugel, MD of the management company of TechVision Fund I.
Upcycling instead of downcycling
With EEDEN’s process, used textiles made of cotton or other cellulosic fibres can be converted into pulp, which serves as a resource for new fibres such as viscose, lyocell, etc. This makes it a real upcycling process: a high-quality product is created from an inferior starting material.
“Currently, old clothes that cannot be used as second-hand goods often end up abroad, where they are improperly dumped in the countryside or just burnt, in many cases. Today, recycling basically means that textiles are ‘down-cycled’ into low-quality products such as cleaning rags or insulation material. We want to keep the material in a cycle and thus meet the growing demand for high-quality cellulose products”, Steffen Gerlach and Reiner Mantsch, the founders of EEDEN.
Compared to other upcycling processes, EEDEN’s technology is more environmentally friendly and at the same time more cost-efficient. It uses significantly fewer chemicals and reduces by-products such as salt loads in the manufacturing process. Since the process also tolerates a higher proportion of foreign fibres compared to the competition, textiles with higher admixtures of e.g. polyester fibres can also be recycled in the future.
“The conversion of a linear value chain to a sustainable circular economy requires a deep understanding of countless processes and technical details. As a seed investor, we are very pleased to support a team here that has developed a comprehensive understanding of the textile industry over the last few years and has already built up an impressive network of active and potential partners in the process”, Dr. Nik Raupp, Investment Manager at High-Tech Gründerfonds.
In addition to the founders and shareholders Steffen Gerlach (CEO) and Reiner Mantsch (CTO), the core team of EEDEN consists of Julian Hertrampf (CMO), Tobias Boernhorst (process engineering) and Lennart Marx (chemical engineering). Together they have already won several start-up competitions and support programmes with EEDEN.