VDMA

Trade Association Textile Machinery

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WAY2ITMA: Andreas Lukas, ANDRITZ NONWOVEN

22May. 2023
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The world of textiles and the textile industry has a high responsibility for sustainability. This includes also ANDRITZ, as technology supplier. As a matter of fact, making clothes accounts for around 10 percent of CO₂ emissions from human activity. But despite the need for circularity in our use of resources, the clothing industry has been fed by a distinctly linear value chain. Clothing is notoriously over-supplied, and while it might be resold, recycled into cloths or insulation, much of it ends up incinerated or in landfill. Textile-to-textile circularity has been conspicuously absent.

But this is changing thanks to media pressure, consumer demand, regulations, and technology. Our ignorance about the price the planet pays for our full wardrobes is at last being replaced by deep concern about the impact of textiles on the environment. There is also increasing awareness of the need to make greater use of sustainable raw materials in fiber and textile production. Meanwhile, existing technology is proving highly adaptable to textile recycling, and projects that take recycling a step further into true circularity are flourishing.

As part of its ESG (Environment Social Governance) program, the ANDRITZ GROUP is at the core of the movement to provide industrially and economically viable solutions for recycling pre- and post-consumer waste made from natural and synthetic fibers. There is no single, catch-all solution to the recycling of textiles, and this plays to ANDRITZ’s strengths because the group has such a diversity of solutions to offer and several cooperation partners covering the value chain from recovery of fibers to chemical modification and preparation for the production of yarn.

Some solutions are derived from strong expertise in the field of pulp and paper; others have been developed specifically for textiles. As a whole, they offer single and multiple complementary technologies to address the needs of different textile recycling challenges.

Textile fiber preparation
The preparation textile waste lays the foundation for the subsequent textile recycling process, whether it is based on mechanical, chemical, combined, or other customer-specific treatment. Numerous parameters influencing the choice of technology include the nature of the waste (garments, linens, carpets, white/colored textiles etc.), the feeding conditions (e.g. baled or loose feed material), the required size of the shredded textiles in output, the presence of impurities such as zippers, the output purity, the capacity and all other requirements of downstream processing. ANDRITZ offers single equipment units and complete textile fiber preparation systems, from material feed and shredding right up to the finally prepared material.

Mechanical recycling
ANDRITZ today offers a complete process range of tearing equipment, from 50 up to 3000 kg/h, applicable to almost all types of pre-/post-consumer waste textiles with the aim of maintaining the nature of the original fibers by – with cotton for example – maximizing fiber length, strength and feel. Today, Ne24 and Ne30 yarn counts use 70 percent recycled cotton fibers in some blends. In addition, the mechanical recycling process uses less water, no chemicals and allows a reduced machinery installation footprint.

Chemical recycling
Chemical recycling of textile waste is a vital, emerging business area. It is the piece of the puzzle that completes the picture of textile-to-textile circularity. ANDRITZ is a key player because the core process steps involved can use the same equipment as in existing pulp and paper technology, where ANDRITZ is an acknowledged expert.

The process often requires the input of raw material based on a blend of different fibers that have been mechanically treated prior to chemical modification. ANDRITZ has the equipment and expertise to offer technology solutions for new chemical processes according to the customer’s needs, including complete production lines and individual equipment for chemical recycling processes such as washing, mixing, cooking, bleaching, and drying.

Depending on the customer's technology solution, cellulose-based fibers and polyesters from fiber blends, for example, are further modified to enable secondary use as fibers or materials for various purposes.

Nonwovens bring new life to textiles
Transformation of recycled textile fibers into technical nonwoven felts is one of the key methods for recycling textiles into new products, and ANDRITZ offers complete nonwoven roll-good production lines to process recycled fibers from textile waste. This includes lines such as spunlace, Wetlace, needlepunch and airlay processes. In general, these lines include fiber opening and blending, fine openers, and web forming (in which fibers are treated and laid to form a sheet), web bonding (in which the sheet is entangled/bonded) as well as slitting and winding equipment. New products, such as wipes, building insulation, mattresses, car interiors and furniture fillings, can be created with these roll goods.

The full suite
So ANDRITZ has the full suite of expertise and technology to provide tailormade textile recycling processes that manage diverse types of textile waste. But it also leads the way in research and development, with a worldwide network of pilot plants and technology centers, offering an excellent platform for customer trials and R&D work. In addition, the ANDRITZ GROUP’S capabilities in the field of digital solutions offer an excellent platform to optimize equipment and system performance.

Already a formidable brand across several sectors, ANDRITZ has established itself as a globally operating partner when it comes to textile recycling processes, in a sector in which there is no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution. Complementary technologies backed by an over-arching vision are the way forward.

With the experience and skills for textile fiber preparation, mechanical, chemical, and combined recycling methods, ANDRITZ cooperates with innovative technology partners and focuses on continuous further development of machinery and recycling processes to accompany the customer throughout the product lifecycle and beyond. Quite simply, ANDRITZ is the partner with the vision, expertise and capability when it comes to textile recycling processes.

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