Worn Again Technologies hits £5 million investment target to accelerate its trail-blazing polymer recycling technology, cracking the code on the circularity of raw materials for the global textiles and apparel industry.
Worn Again Technologies is leading the charge to solve part of the world’s plastic crisis and the growing problem of textiles waste to landfill. After more than six years of intensive R&D, Worn Again Technologies is coming out of the lab and bringing its patented technology to market.
CEO, Cyndi Rhoades said, “There are enough textiles and plastic bottles ‘above ground’ and in circulation today to meet our annual demand for raw materials to make new clothing and textiles. With our dual polymer recycling technology, there will be no need to use virgin oil by-products to make new polyester and the industry will be able to radically decrease the amount of virgin cotton going into clothing by displacing it with new cellulose fibres recaptured from existing clothing.”
Worn Again Technologies’ patented process can separate, decontaminate and extract polyester polymers and cellulose (from cotton) from non-reusable textiles, as well as plastic bottles and packaging, to go back into new products as part of a repeatable process.
The innovation cracks the code not only by being able to separate both polyester and cotton but also by being able to produce two end products that are both comparable in quality and have the aim of being competitive in price to virgin resources. The process saves energy and will accelerate us towards a waste-free, circular resource world.
Currently, less than 1% of non-wearable textiles are turned back into new textiles due to technical and economic limitations of current recycling methods. Worn Again Technologies can reprocess pure and blended cotton and polyester textiles (together representing 80% of all clothing and textiles) meaning its solution offers the potential to increase the recycling of raw materials in textiles exponentially from the current 1%, with no price premium to manufacturers, brands or the consumer.
Cambridge PhD and Worn Again Technologies Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Adam Walker sums it up, “The solution to the world’s plastics problem is not to stop using plastic altogether. We have a solution to address the burgeoning need for recycling non- re-wearable textiles and plastics and we’ve been clamouring to get on with it for many years. This investment, combined with the
increasing geopolitical awareness of the need for this technology, is enabling us to push through the scale-up and validation work to reach the market on an accelerated timescale.”
The industry is starting to wake up to Dr. Walker and the Worn Again scientists. Last month, the company was awarded a grant to become the first chemical recycling technology to be Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified. “For the last few years, fighting against industry inertia and resistance to investing in our solution was incredibly difficult. Everyone in the industry was waiting for someone else to take the lead” said angel investor and Chairman Craig Cohon. “It’s been a challenge but we have now brought together an esteemed group of pioneers who share a like-minded vision for the future.”
The catalyst for the investment was fashion retailer H&M, now joined by new partners including Sulzer Chemtech, one of the world’s largest chemical engineering companies; Mexico based Himes Corporation, a garment manufacturer; Directex, a textiles producer and Miroslava Duma’s Future Tech Lab. The combined investment and support enables the optimisation phase of the technology in the lab as well as industrial trials, scaling and designing of the industrial process with Sulzer Chemtech. These crucial steps will finalise developments to the point at which the technology is complete and ready for commercialisation.
Worn Again Technologies has also partnered with Qvartz, a management consultancy firm with Nordic roots and global reach, to support its direction setting, partnership development and commercialisation model. Worn Again Technologies is currently enlisting local, national and global investors and strategic partners who want to be part of the rapid expansion plan as it prepares for the first industrial demonstration plant to be launched in 2021.