Technology of waste textiles & plastic combined recycling towards innovative composites for multisectorial applications

The technology refers to integrated recycling of domestic and industrial waste textiles and thermoplastic waste towards innovative pellets. Such tailored semifabricates can be further submitted to different thermoplastic technologies for multisectorial applications.

Recovery and recycling provide both environmental and economic benefits: reduce the need for landfill space; reduces pressure on virgin resources; aids the balance of payments as we import fewer materials for our needs; results in less pollution and energy savings, as materials for certain composites do not have to be transported from abroad. The textile industry in EC with some 2,000 companies, produces annually 2.5 mil. tons of consumer textile products. The average European throws away about 26 kg of clothing and textiles per year. The industrial textiles average life is less than 4 years and practically all go to municipal waste. The waste textiles recycling industry is insignificant in EC, and processes only few quantities of very clean textiles to carpets or special non-woven products. At least 50% of the textiles we throw away may be recyclable by innovative technologies, however, the proportion of textile wastes reused or recycled annually in the EC is <15%. On the other hand, automotive plastics make up about 1% by weight of landfill. Floor carpets and some thermoplastic (polyolefins containing) components used in automobiles (e.g. as bumpers) are considered at this moment extremely difficult to recycle. The recycling of plastic scrap must consider both painted and unpainted cases, and the economics to collect, sort, and process very old bumpers for their plastic content are not very favorable. The average of textiles used in one car is more than 2 Kg and the average life for a car is short than 15 years. The amount of plastic used in a car is around 16 kg. Vehicle recycling in Europe is over 10 million units per year. The recent car technology used for cover seats polyester fibers, and as floor carpet items: polyamide or polyester fibers on rubber (SBR or EPDM) support, but the actual tendency is to generalise the use of polyester fibers on PP support. This aspect of generalisation of waste stream selection represents a very strong argument and a clear motivation for the present project, which proposes an new concept of composites, based on mixed fibers from certain textiles and a mixture of recycled polyolefines. The technology refers to integrated recycling of domestic and industrial waste textiles and thermoplastics waste towards innovative composite pellets. Such tailored semifabricates can be further submitted to different technologies for multisectorial applications. Even if the final thermoplastic forming technology may be related to the experience obtained by e.g. wood-plastic composites technology, which is mature now and step-by-step implemented across Europe, the proposed thermoplastic composites / pellets will have completely different characteristics (due to fibers and ingredients specific), and must be separately addressed by a coherent research activity, exactly as the one proposed by the current project. The manufacture of mixed short fibres-recycled plastic composites is proposed in a two-step process. The raw materials are first properly prepared then tailored mixed and grinded in a process called compounding. The compounded material is then thermally processed in order to obtain a product as pellet precursor. The research activity is driven mainly toward assessing the effect of textiles fibrous characteristics, compounds balance and processing ingredients and durability of final thermoplastic composites. The principal categories of characterization methods to be used, are: micro-mechanical techniques, physical characterization, chemical characterization, mechanical tests, microscopic techniques, and X-ray computed tomography technique. The proposed work packages and activities will include: Management of the work, reports, demonstration, exploitation, IPR; Analysis of waste materials recycling and supply chain, Design of waste materials processing technologies, Development of adhesives and additives for optimal compounding; Design and development of equipment for thermo-processing and scaling-up to industrial dimension; General and specific certification testing of mastrebatch products vs. Intersectorial application; Investigation towards a compatible integration with minimal costs within existing production lines; Demonstration of 2 products obtained by such mastrebatches with Adaptation of related injection, extruding and/or compression molding equipment; Mechanical/thermal/structural tests considerations; Life cycle, recyclability and cost analysis; Benchmarking, Technology transfer, implementation. The target general market is of economic applications with reduced degree of complexity and for non-sophisticated purposes. In addition to providing a renewable material for a range of applications in building, furniture, automotive industry etc., the development of a sustainable recycling industry for textiles will help rejuvenate beleaguered local communities. The consortium cumulates in a synergic way the expertise and capabilities of 4 partners from 2 countries.
Project ID: 
9 895
Start date: 
Project Duration: 
Project costs: 
1 250 000.00€
Technological Area: 
Market Area: 

Raising the productivity and competitiveness of European businesses through technology. Boosting national economies on the international market, and strengthening the basis for sustainable prosperity and employment.