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VÄXJÖ – Swedish pulp and paper giant Södra claims it’s made a new chemical ‘breakthrough’ that allows it to separate polyester/cotton blended textiles and turn them into raw materials for viscose and lyocell fibre production.

Once separated by the new patent-pending technique cotton is then added to Södra’s wood-derived pulp and can be used to make man-made cellulosic fibres, yarns and fabrics.

The separated polyester is currently used for energy recovery, which is then fed back into the process.

As an established major player in the global pulp industry, with annual revenues of SEK 24 billion (US$ 2.47 billion), Södra says that its size and financial clout can help to boost the rapid scale-up of textile-to-textile recycling.

“Our advantage is that we are already at the industrial scale and for many years (have been) a dissolving pulp supplier,” Helena Claesson, project manager at Södra Innovation & New Business told Ecotextile News. Unlike others, “we do not need to build new facilities to start making pulp with textile fibres in the mix.” 

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