C-TEX: first product concepts obtained; new business model emerging?

Materials and Products

Within the CIRCULAR TEXTILES project, which acts as a demonstration approach through pilot cases on the topic of Circular Economy in the textile sector, new business models based on recycling are emerging, where the key aspect is the centrality of the recycled material.
Thanks to an harmonised vision of the product system, several positive effects are possible, which allow strengthening both aspects of environmental and economic sustainability.
Early prototypes and concepts are proving their effectiveness, providing a guideline for a transition towards an increasingly efficient and circular economy.

The issue of textile recycling is not new, but the way it is approached may be new.

Traditionally, the main obstacle faced by textile products made wholly or partly of recycled material relates to quality aspects; in addition, on the economic front, it is necessary to consider the relationship between recycling costs and the price of virgin raw materials.

Due to physical issues related to the mechanical recycling of textiles, which involves heavy actions such as fraying, textiles suffer a strong degrading of fibre quality.

For example, with reference to cotton, there is a sort of paradox: the recycling of fine and compact fabrics produces a poorer fibre than the analogous recycling of fabrics with medium/coarse counts.

This is because of the process needing to intervene forcefully in such phases as fraying to achieve the intimate separation of the fibres.

However, this should not be an obstacle for the ordinary production of the finest products, because they represent the core business of Italian companies.

Instead, it is necessary to think of a solution that can overcome this obstacle, and the best answer lies in the re-design of recycled products.

One of the aims of the C-TEX project is to establish a recycling chain that can provide suitable solutions, and this is the reason why Centrocot is involved.

It is therefore necessary to rethink the production system and market positioning.

One of the key points is the exploitation of the characteristics of recycled yarns obtained from recycling without considering them as a second-class product, but as a new possibility. In other words, considering them as assets to be exploited.

Thus, the strong intrinsic materiality becomes one of the key aspects, as it communicates the story of the recycling process and is a distinctive and enhancing element of the product’s identity.

Based on these assumptions, it is finally possible to outline a new business model. The use of as many elements of the existing production chain as possible is a key factor because it makes the new business model more agile.

Furthermore, the collaboration between the project partners, in particular the TBM group and Framis, is demonstrating that it is possible not only to have a single product, but a wider family of products that can fit into different sectors and markets.

Examples are concepts ranging from clothing to furniture and fashion accessories.

In this way, thanks to the extreme differentiation of destinations, the original manufacturing process and the new supply chain becomes more sustainable.

At the same time, it is possible to meet several requirements arising from the indications of the transition to the circular economy:

  • waste reduction, as the new model valorises waste materials. This reduces the demand for virgin raw materials;
  • maximization of materials: the new concepts are produced with a longer life expectancy than the average lifespan of the fashion/clothing products from which they are derived. This is due to two components: the strong intrinsic materiality and the target sectors;
  • positive economic spin-offs, thanks to different market niches that allow economic viability.

Finally, another design aspect considered concerns the future recyclability of products resulting from the recycling process, an issue that needs to be carefully examined.

 

For more details please contact:

  • Paolo Ghezzo, Multisectoral Research & Innovation Area

paolo.ghezzo@centrocot.it

  • Daniela Nebuloni, Multisectoral Research & Innovation Area

daniela.nebuloni@centrocot.it

Author: Paolo Ghezzo

Multisectoral Research and Innovation