Siptex - Quality assurance report

Siptex (Swedish Innovation Platform for Textile Sorting) is a research project funded by Sweden’s Innovation Agency's Challenge-driven innovation initiative. As a new step in the textile value chain, Siptex aims to create the conditions for increased profitability in the handling of the ever-increasing amounts of textile waste that are collected for material recycling and an increase in fibre-to-fibre recycling of textiles. 

This report focuses on the work carried out in the work package called “Quality assurance”. There were two main goals within this work. The first goal was to enable the establishment of a range of quality assured products. The second goal was to increase the knowledge on hazardous chemicals in post-consumer textiles in general.

Five different outbound products of specific fibre content have been developed based on market demand. The products are referred to as ReFab® by SYSAV and include Siptex sorted materials of different purities of cotton, polyester and acrylics. 

For the quality assurance process, a method was developed to take representative textile samples from the bales of post-consumer materials, using a hay sampler and an extensive shredding process to product homogenous samples of shredded textile fibres. In the Siptex project, a total of 15 samples per bale was considered to be both practical as well as likely to give a good representation of the contents in a certain bale. This number is the result of a small pilot study which is described in this report. This method can be supplemented by a more routine analysis in which samples are taken by hand to monitor sorting efficiencies. 

The increase the knowledge on hazardous chemicals in post-consumer textiles, the project investigated existing data on hazardous chemicals in post-consumer textiles and supplemented this with new data generated from chemical analyses on bales of Siptex sorted materials made of cotton, polyester, and acrylics. 

The analysis of the literature data and the results from the chemical analysis of Siptex samples, indicate that compliance with REACH due to presence of hazardous chemicals, likely is not an issue in the sorted post-consumer textiles. Post-consumer textiles also seem to clear Oeko-tex and AFIRM requirements for the majority of the chemical substances on these restricted substance lists. But not all samples clear all the requirements from Oeko-tex or AFIRM. Bales with polyester materials were found to be most likely in breach of Oeoko-tex or AFIRM requirements. Three remaining challenges were identified and discussed in the report. These include the need for more standards, further development of the colour sorting process and a need for more analyses and data-sharing on hazardous substances in post-consumer textiles.

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