fibre2fibre recycling - turning the UKs unwanted clothes into the latest fashion

  • WRAP examines the economics of closed loop (fibre2fibre) recycling using UK post-consumer clothes and textiles.

A new report published today by sustainability experts WRAP is the first to examine the economic factors influencing fibre2fibre recycling and assess how it may help clothe the UK in the future. Using data from established and emerging business and academic trials, WRAP’s report (Fibre to fibre recycling: An economic & financial sustainability assessment) is the first detailed appraisal of the financial viability of using post-consumer clothing and textiles as feedstock for chemical and mechanical fibre2fibre recycling operations.

The focus on end-of-life clothing is an attempt to unlock alternative sources to virgin fibres for manufacturing clothes and supports WRAP’s work to reduce the environmental impact of clothing under the ECAP (European Clothing Action Plan) fibre2fibre recovery trials including the Dutch companies Tricorp, Schijvens and Havep show how innovative approaches to supply chain costs can overcome such barriers.

Alan Wheeler, Director Textile Recycling Association, “The Textile Recycling Association is very supportive of this important research by WRAP.  The fragility of existing fibre recycling markets is presenting a significant barrier to improving the overall sustainability of the fashion industry, which as we know has a huge environmental impact. 

“The current markets for mechanically recycled fibres are limited, and to be able to collect more clothing that is currently being disposed of we must find new markets for recycled fibres or risk flooding these markets and potentially having to dispose of low value recycling grade textiles. Clearly this cannot happen.  This research will help us to obtain a greater understanding of the market sensitivities, particularly of the fledgling chemical recycling processes, and how used textile collectors and processors may have to adapt their practices going forward to maximise value and recyclability of used textiles.”

Currently, an estimated £140 million-worth of clothing is sent to landfill every year in the UK and WRAP’s research will help inform SCAP 2020 re-use & recycling activities. As more data becomes available, further work would help enlarge upon these findings and WRAP believes this modelling exercise could be expanded to reflect a wider range of techniques and systems.


» Publication Date: 28/01/2019

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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Nº 737882.


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