WAKEFIELD – The Sustainable Fashion Academy’s Mike Schragger recently sat down with Luke Henning, founder of Tyton BioSciences, who explained how his company stumbled upon a new use for its technology that could shape the future of textile recycling.
“We don't actually come from fashion at all. We’re a green-tech development lab that developed a process to strip chemicals out of plants,” Henning told Schragger, during today’s podcast. But someone asked us if we’d “ever considered trying to run t-shirts through this process? So, we did. And it worked!”
The company has developed a way to make high-grade pulp that can be used in viscose and lyocell type fabrics by processing pure cotton and poly-cotton blended textiles. But how does the technology actually work? “We use sub-critical water,” says Henning. “You heat water and you don’t allow it to escape to steam. You use pressure and heat to keep it as a liquid, and it basically it then starts to act like molecular 'scissors', and starts to break apart various polymers,” he explained.
The technology is said to be a unique process, but as ever with emerging technologies, the cost to scale these innovations to production level can be astronomical. “So, what would be your dream in the next two years to go to the next level?” Schragger asked. “As with any start-up business, capital is vitally important. The other thing of course is partnerships, we need both. There are ways that brands could contribute, not just in terms of financial resources, but even just in terms of contracts which would help unlock financing sources, which is key.
“Now, for us it is a scaling challenge, as you know we’re a part of the (Fashion for Good) scaling programme, that’s because that’s our next step. And for that, we are going to have to put together both partners and financial resources.”
Kick back and listen to this shorter format podcast in your coffee break to hear about one of the most interesting innovations on textile recycling in the past few years.
Mike Schragger will also be conducting video and audio interviews with industry experts at the 2019 Planet textiles event, which this year takes place during ITMA on June 22nd in Barcelona, Spain. These interviews will be available both as podcasts on the Sustainable Fashion Academy website and as videos on the Ecotextile News website shortly after the event.