WAKEFIELD – In our latest podcast released today, Mike Schragger talks to Akshay Sethi about the science behind polyester recycling, the rapid development of his company Moral Fiber, the steep learning curve he has faced when starting a company directly after graduating from university, and his conviction that all of our clothes will be made of recycled materials by 2030.
A recent biochemistry graduate from UC Davis in California, Akshay was working on chemical ways to recycle plastics into something useful when he virtually stumbled across the fashion sector. “Four years ago, if you asked me if I would be working in the fashion sector, I would have said no way!”
Since then, after an out-of-the-blue request to take a look at textile recycling, he’s been working on new ways to separate polymers at the molecular level using enzymes derived from modified bacteria – and started his business using a patented process to extract PET plastic from PET-containing materials to give virgin-grade PET resins to make high quality polyester textile fibres and yarns.
In this engaging podcast, Akshay reveals to Mike Schragger how he has built up and developed the business from scratch and how his technology – if adopted widely – could also play an important role in combatting microplastic pollution by keeping used polyester clothing out of landfill.
“I believe by 2030 that all our clothes will be made with recycled materials,” he tells us, saying that many other large stakeholders already have plans in place to reach these same, very ambitious goals. “We have a very robust plan to do this.”
“Our vision is to build large-scale facilities that look like refineries, might seem like refineries, but actually process clothing instead of oil,” he says.
It will obviously need serious and significant investment to get the technology working on this type of commercial scale. Certainly, the project would be looking at billions of dollars in funding. So, speaking to investors, does Akshay really think this is possible?
Click on the link below to find out more about what he believes will be the new challenges for the textile industry when it comes to recycling significant volumes of polyester clothing – one of which will be to develop the right engineering process – that can also make money.