T-REX Project consortium: Introducing Fashion for Good

T-REX Project brings together major players from across the entire value chain to create a harmonised EU blueprint for closed-loop sorting, and recycling of household textile waste. We met with Jyotsna Gopinath, Innovation Analyst at Fashion for Good, to discuss her role in the project, the challenges it addresses, and the future outlook for the sector.
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Describe your role at Fashion for Good.

Fashion for Good is a global initiative to inspire change and drive the collective movement to make fashion a force for good. We work directly with the fashion industry to innovate towards solutions that are better for people and the planet. At the core of Fashion for Good is our Innovation Platform – where we connect those working on sustainable innovation (across the supply chain) with brands, retailers, manufacturers, and funders to bring new ideas and technologies from niche to norm.

I am an innovation analyst within Fashion for Good’s Innovation Platform, overseeing the scouting and validation of textile and footwear recycling technologies. 

Can you explain your participation in the T-REX Project? 

Fashion for Good is involved in multiple aspects of the T-REX Project, but primarily is focused on scoping a techno-economic assessment of textile-to-textile recycling technologies as well as identifying the opportunities for digitising the textile supply chain to enable closed-loop recycling. In addition to this, Fashion for Good manages communications for the project, encompassing branding, design, social media content, media announcements, and citizen engagement activities. Our goal is to maximise industry-wide awareness and learning from the T-REX Project.

What do you think is the biggest challenge the T-REX Project will need to overcome? 

At present, the textile waste supply chain, from aggregation, to sorting, to recycling, is both fragmented and manual. In order for textile circularity to be enabled, there needs to be aligned waste flows supplemented by data communication so that recyclers can receive the right textile feedstock and information about its composition to properly recycle it and close the loop on the value chain.

The EU has highlighted culture as one of the key challenges to the adoption of the circular economy across Europe, so we have dedicated one of the work packages within the T-Rex project to citizen engagement and communication. Communications around this kind of project can often sound quite technical and not particularly accessible for the general public, exploring how we translate technical language into more accessible storytelling and overcoming hurdles to engaging citizens is key. 

What is the biggest opportunity to unlock within textile-to-textile recycling?

Multiple opportunities for innovation in the waste supply chain can unlock textile-to-textile recycling, especially within the waste aggregation and sorting steps. For example, analytical sorting methods (such as near-infrared spectroscopy), waste mapping platforms, and holistic feedstock preprocessing innovations can create a more robust waste supply chain and therefore enable more efficient recycling methods.  

How do you envision the textile value chain in 2050? 

Materials are an essential element of a brand’s identity, they are the product and a core part of a brand’s relationship with the consumer. They make a brand but they can also break a brand specifically if we consider all the sustainability challenges, we also know they are one of the most impactful aspects of the supply chain and are critical on the path to net zero. Today, innovative materials such as textile-to-textile recycled fibres make up less than <1% of the fibre basket (Textile Exchange). We anticipate that the combination of brand commitment alongside legislation and regulation will accelerate the adoption of next-gen materials. 

As we’ve seen in recent months, the road to scaling impactful material solutions such as textile-to-textile recycling is not straightforward, specifically given the current macroeconomic environment where funding is constrained and the appetite for margin impact is low. Securing investment for building large scale recycling facilities, supply chain integration and supplier partnerships are among the challenges that need to be tackled. 

In 2050 we envision that textile-to-textile recycling will be scaled and a core part of the material mix. This will be facilitated by a robust automated sorting ecosystem, supported by digital product passports enabling full traceability throughout the supply chain. 

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