Worn Again: circular textile recycling technology for (almost) zero textile waste

1. Sustainability Problem: Textile waste

The U.S. EPA estimates that textile waste occupies nearly 5% of all landfill space.

While the EPA estimates that the textile recycling industry recycles approximately 3.8 billion pounds of post-consumer textile waste (PCTW) each year, this only accounts for approximately 15% of all PCTW, leaving 85% in our landfills.

The average US citizen throws away 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles annually.

Decomposing clothing releases methane, a harmful greenhouse gas and a significant contributor to global warming. There are dyes and chemicals in fabric and other components of clothing and shoes that can leach into the soil, contaminating both surface and groundwater.

2. Technology solution: Worn Again

Worn Again has been developing chemical recycling for over three years and through trials and lab experiments they are perfecting a process where solvents are used to selectively dissolve different types of textiles, recapturing them as a raw material, which can be used to make new clothes, thus being reintroduced into the supply chain as new. Within the Textile Sorting Project Worn Again is dedicated to achieving the shared goal of creating circular supply chains for textiles through collaboration and new technologies.

The tests for this new technology, which will be monitored by H&M and Puma, are built around separating and extracting polyester and cotton from blended fiber clothing. Another task will be to separate dyes and other particles from polyester and cellulose, which has always been a challenge when recycling. The raw materials that are recaptured can then be used to spin new fabric for clothes. This circular process will have an extremely positive effect on bringing down the need for virgin resources and as such reduces carbon emissions, as well as the use of toxic pesticides, chemical fertilizers or exhaustion of land for growing crops.

Worn Again isn’t the first to develop a textile-to-textile technology. In 2014, Swedish scientists developed a process to recycle cotton by shredding clothes to pulp and turning the substance into threads of viscose. The company responsible for making the pulp is now preparing its first fabric-recycling factory and teaming up with several entrepreneurs in the textile industry.

The stakeholders

  • The product developer (Worn Again)
  • The subsidizing companies (H&M, Puma)
  • Local governments / NGOs to foster usage of this product

Deployment

  • The team is currently engaged in full time development of a circular recycling technology for the textile and clothing industry, working closely with its’ development partners, H&M and Kering Group’s Sports & Lifestyle brand Puma.
  • H&M and Puma have enough infrastructure to deploy the product worldwide with a strong marketing campaign. However, costs should be mitigated in order to make the products accessible and the process economically viable.
  • Consequently, support from NGOs and local governments is key to allow tax reduction on recycled clothing and recycling plant set-up in order to lower costs as present them as feasible alternatives.

Links

Comp-A-Tent: For a more sustainable music festival

1020

Sustainability Problem:

  • 1 in 5 tents used at music festivals are used once and abandoned, creating landfill waste
  • Materials in these tents are often toxic

Technology:

  • Comp-A-Tent tents are made of bio-based materials that can be composted with food waste
  • Fully biodegradable after 120 days with no net CO2 increase
  • Closed loop process as waste product can be re-used
  • BusinessGreen Tech Award Winner 2015 for Bio-Technology of the Year

Stakeholders:

  • Festival attendees
  • Festival organizers/promoters
  • City officials / community leaders of festival locations
  • Residents of communities where festivals are held
  • Festival sponsors
  • Investors

Implementation:

  • Prototypes are currently in use at 7 UK music festivals
  • Plans are to crowdsource funding in 2017 with a full launch in 2018 with select festival partners
  • Tents would be available for sale along with festival ticket and available for pick up on site and disposal

Challenges are that the disposable but un-sustainable tents currently on the marketplace are cheap and readily available making it easy for festival goers to just leave behind. The Comp-A-Tent will cost around £50 which is more than double the average cost of a normal tent. KarTent, another eco-tent that is made of cardboard uses advertisers to help subsidize the cost for festival goers. Partnering with cities and the festivals (who have to clean up and deal with the environmental impact of the tents left behind) and with sponsors who could perhaps help subsidize the cost or offer some other incentive to encourage the use of the Comp-A-Tent rather than traditional tents.

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2016/jul/02/cardboard-bioplastic-tents-pitching-up-at-festivals-glastonbury-waste?CMP=ema-1706&CMP=

http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2430639/businessgreen-technology-awards-2015-shortlist-announced

http://comp-a-tent.com/

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/royal-academy-of-engineering-innovation-awards

MIITO – the sustainable alternative to the electric kettle

1.Sustainability Problem

In order to make a simple cup of tea, you end up overfilling the kettle. This wastes energy and water and also means you have to wait longer for it to heat up. Energy consumption because of the kettle water overfilling when boiling is far higher than what we would normally assume. According to Leyla Acaroglu during her 2014 TED Talk “One day of extra energy use [from overfilling electric kettles] is enough to light all the streetlights in England for a night.”

2) The technology

MIITO uses simple induction technology to essentially wirelessly transfer heat. Its base creates an electromagnetic field which will then heat any ferrous material on its surface, in this case the disc attached to the bottom of the rod. Once the rod is placed inside a vessel filled with  liquid, the rod’s disc will heat up and directly transfer heat to just the liquid in the vessel, contrary to microwave ovens.

By heating only the liquid you need directly in the vessel you’ll drink from, it avoids wasting extra liquid and use less energy to heat it. Induction technology is 80-90% energy efficient in heating liquids. Electric kettles are only 50-80% efficient, microwave ovens are around 43% efficient and water heated on a stove is only 16-27% energy efficient, when boiling the same amount of liquid. Amongst many others, it has won the James Dyson Award for its lean, simple, and sustainable design.

3) Stakeholders

  • Customers
  • Investors
  • Crowdfunders
  • MITTO, the developers of the product
  • Local governments

4) Implementation

  • The company has successfully run a Kickstarter campaign in 2015 where they gathered €818,098 pledged of €150,000 goal.
  • Since September 2015, the product is in its development phase.
  • Once the product is launched, targeted media campaigns should raise awareness on the product and make it available worldwide.
  • It would be desirable for local governments to encourage the use of this kind of devices by using some for of ‘sustainable’ labelling, as well as promotions.

5) References

http://www.miito.com

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/747044530/miito-the-sustainable-alternative-to-the-electric/posts/1609808

http://www.wired.com/2014/11/tea-kettle-alternative-thats-cooler-cleaner-eco-friendly/

http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-29245299

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/feb/08/innovators-boiling-point-redesigning-kettle-miito

Liam – Improving the LifeCycle of iPhones

1. Sustainability Problem: Waste

There are billions of technology products and they are constantly being replaced by by new or different technologies, but in a world with limited resources and over-flowing landfills, we can not discard all of our old gadgets to landfills and rely on freshly sourced materials to build the replacements. Improper disposal of technology can be dangerous due to toxic chemicals in the battery, such as cobalt and lithium.

2. Technology: Liam The Robot

Article:
Apple Just Unveiled a Blazing Fast iPhone Recycling Robot

by Lacey Cook, Published 3/21/2016 on inhabitat at http://inhabitat.com/apple-unveils-iphone-recycling-robot-and-launches-major-apple-renew-initiative/apple-liam-iphone-recycling-robot-1/

  • In March, Apple introduced a new member of the Apple Renew program, Liam, a robotic arm
  • Liam is programmed specifically to dismantle iPhones into reusable parts and safely recycle toxic materials found in the battery such as lithium, and cobalt
  • Once dismantled, the parts will be broken down further to be reintroduced into the global supply chain
  • Apple provides pre-paid package labels to customers returning old or unwanted devices, they will also receive a gift card if the returned device has any value

3. Organizational Stakeholders

  • Apple
  • Toxic waste management facilities
  • Landfill facilities
  • First generation resource/material providers for technology
  • Current, potential, and future Apple customers

4. Deployment

  • Increase public awareness of Apple Renew, the company’s reuse and recycling program
  • Incentivize or require users to return old products
  • Share Liam technology and programming with other technology manufacturers or disposal organizations to increase the total impact

See also:

http://appleinsider.com/articles/16/03/21/apple-teases-liam-iphone-recycling-robot-as-part-of-environmental-initiative

 

Creating new products out of food waste

foodwaste_infographic

Sustainability Problem: Waste management – 40% of US food supply ends up in the trash.

Technology: Providing data, transparency, and hardware for “upcycling” or reducing food waste. These types of products can include those that link wholesalers with food that may go to waste soon with restaurants at a significant discount OR provide hardware or services to generate fertilizer, animal feed, or human food from food waste. More and more startups are emerging that create new products out of food waste, such as Back to the Roots which sells mushroom kits made from used coffee grounds and Wtrmln Wtr which sells watermelon juice made from melons which were un-sellable in grocery stores.

NY Times Article here

Stakeholders: Consumers, Manufacturers, Grocers, Farmers, Wholesalers, Restaurants

Implementation: (1) Identify points of major food waste (from manufacturers, grocers, consumers, etc. and analyze data to understand and prioritize biggest areas of waste to focus (2) Partner with providers and consumers of identified area of food waste to pilot process and technology for one location (3) Scale with existing partners to additional locations or manufacturing plants

class june 16, 2016 – uni mst2135

3D Printing – Less Waste and Energy Use/More Recycling Opportunities

Article: 3 Ways 3D Printing Will Save the Environment

Website: https://3dprint.com/271/3-ways-3d-printing-will-save-the-environment/

  • 3D printing could be a feasible solution to reduce waste in manufacturing.  This is a different type of manufacturing that adds materials to the product until completion, therefore creating less waste.  Less waste means less garbage sent to landfills and less overall pollution.
  • We could also expect a reduction in fossil fuel use as 3D printing becomes more standard and we become less reliant on traditional shipping methods.  Products will be printed within your home instead of delivered by truck.
  • 3D printing could allow for additional recycling opportunities.  For example, a used plastic bottle or other materials could be turned into filament for this printer.

Consumers are the primary stakeholders that must utilize this technology in order to see an impact.  Also, businesses within the manufacturing industry can take advantage of the cost savings from 3D printing.

The first three steps in deploying this product would be:

  1. Partner with manufacturers to implement 3D printing for its products.
  2. Identifying the most efficient ways of recycling using the 3D printer and how this can be done at home.
  3. Providing access to a low cost version of a 3D printer for home use that consumers can use on a daily basis.