London-based Worn Again Technologies has hit its 5 million pounds investment target to accelerate its trail-blazing polymer recycling technology, which aims to crack the code on the circularity of raw materials for the textiles and apparel industry.
The cash injection has come from a number of investors, including global fast-fashion giant H&M, and angel investor Craig Cohon, previously a senior executive of The Coca Cola Company and owner of Cirque du Soleil Russia.
They were 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 will enable the optimisation phase of the technology in the lab as well as industrial trials, scaling and designing of the industrial process with Sulzer Chemtech, explained Worn Again Technologies. In addition, the technology company has partnered with Qvartz, a management consultancy firm to support its direction setting, partnership development and commercialisation model.
In addition, the company 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.
Worn Again Technologies, which was founded in East London in 2005, 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 research and development, its patented dual polymer recycling technology is coming out of the lab and being brought to market.
The 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 enable them to be fed back into new products as part of a repeatable process.
The innovation not only enables the separation of both polyester and cotton but also produces 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 the industry towards a waste-free, circular resource world.
H&M among investors backing recycling trail-blazers Worn Again Technologies
Worn Again Technologies chief executive Cyndi Rhoades said in a press release: “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.”
Currently, less than 1 percent 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, which represents 80 percent of all clothing and textiles, meaning its solution offers the potential to increase the recycling of raw materials in textiles exponentially, with no price premium to manufacturers, brands or the consumer.
Worn Again Technologies chief scientific officer, Dr. Adam Walker added: “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-rewearable 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.”
Last month, the company was awarded a grant to become the first chemical recycling technology to be Cradle to Cradle (C2C) certified, which assesses a product through five quality categories - material health, material reutilisation, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship and social fairness. The grant goes towards the official assessment process of these categories by an independent assessor and certifies that the product is being produced in licensed plants.
Images: courtesy of Worn Again Technologies