Pilot project: The second life of bed sheets

As a part of the circular economy, CWS is looking for new ways of recycling existing textiles. Together with partners, viscose is won from bed sheets for further use.

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12 February 2021 Healthcare

Every year, several million tonnes of textile remnants and textiles get discarded and then disposed, yet a large proportion of these textiles could be recycled. Upcycling and recycling discarded textiles is already a central component of the CWS Group's business activities.  The used circular economy approach works by keeping the used textiles recyclable and reusuable, as long as possible. Recently, as part of a pilot project in cooperation with partner Dibella, a supplier of flat linen for hotel, catering and healthcare industries, bed linen that was no longer usable was passed on to a new recycling process. "We keep our eyes open for innovative re- and upcycling opportunities. Through our supplier Dibella, we came across the textile recycler Södra and recently shipped 3 tonnes of discarded bed linen to Sweden," says Tobias Steffen, Corporate Responsibility Manager at CWS. The discarded bed linen comes from the laundry in Bad Oldesloe.

Södra, a company dedicated to recycling fibres from blended fabrics, among other things, will process the delivered textiles and break them down into their individual parts. The challenge of the approach to recycle textiles is that they   are often made of blended fabrics and have different colours. The special feature of Södra's process is, that the cotton can be separated from the polyester through a chemical process. The cotton that remains can then be used as a raw material for cellulose fibre production and processed into viscose fibres, for example. This closes the raw material cycle, as the viscose fibres can be used again in textile production. The removed polyester fibres are a byproduct. "With this pilot project, we are trying out a new and innovative technique for recycling textiles. We will check whether we can expand a cooperation further," says Steffen.