The circular economy is in full swing within the textile sector. Important first steps have already been taken, but until today no textile company succeeded in actually returning all the raw materials of a product to the chain without loss of quality. Circular economy requires a radical adaptation and companies will have to change their products, business processes and models significantly.
With the Circutex project, AVS Spinning NV (European Spinning Group) wants to research the challenges and feasibility of circular economy and the preconditions for setting up a circular production process. We focus in the first place on a specific textile product, namely mattress fabrics.
Whereas current sustainable initiatives are usually limited to the use of recycled synthetic raw materials such as polyester, our aim in this project is to completely redevelop mattress fabrics according to a circular model. Our focus is on a short, local supply chain, the use of recycled and environmentally friendly materials in Europe and the optimisation of the production and life cycle according to a series of sustainability parameters. To make our product successful, we also have to take into account the expectations of the users (safety, comfort, design ...).
Such new, locally produced textiles could eventually supplant the classic, linear model.
AVS Spinning NV (deel van European Spinning Group)
First, we selected various possible raw materials on the basis of concrete principles within the circular economy, input from the existing market and concrete verified expectations of customers and end users.
On the basis of the selected raw materials, we developed several of our own yarns that met our production ambition of a 100% cellulose-based mattress fabric with the highest possible recycled content.
With the new yarns, we developed and analysed several fabrics and knits. We also researched further circular finishes and technical developments, such as soluble stitching yarns and tracers.
In a final phase of the project, we conducted an environmental impact study (LCA) and analysed the various end-of-life recycling options.
MOST IMPORTANT LESSONS LEARNED
The most important properties of a circular mattress fabrics for the consumer are price, comfort, appearance, design, quality, durability and a clear sustainability story. These parameters have a major impact on the selection of raw materials, processing and finishing.
Several new, sustainable raw materials turned out to be insufficiently available or of too low a quality to be spun. Furthermore, some sustainable yarns are easy to process, but less strong or more expensive and have a different look and feel. A sustainable mattress cover remains a conscious choice.
The results of the environmental impact study indicate that the use of sustainable regenerated cellulose fibres instead of PET can provide important ecological benefits.
The main end-of-life recycling options for mattress fabrics are mechanical recycling, chemical recycling and biodegradation.
17developed mattress covers
1environmental impact analysis
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD?
Our partners and ourselves are very satisfied with the results achieved in this project and want to continue working on it. We will continue to work on our yarns based on the tested recycled materials and once they are ready for industrial production, we will focus on further spinning tests and commercialisation, both for mattress fabrics and other products.
Discussions with MMT to bring our 100% recycled cotton variant to the market are ongoing. MMT is continuing to work on the already confirmed inclusions in bedding customer collections, but is also demonstrating our recyclable mattress fabrics to other potential customers.
Furthermore, we will optimise our machinery in order to achieve a higher percentage of recycled material and we want to focus on the traceability of sustainable collections within the entire value chain.
Finally, we will investigate how we can better valorise the end-of-life material, possibly in consultation with our partner Valumat.