New polyester recycling plant opens in UK to tackle textile waste

25 April, 24
A joint venture between Salvation Army Trading Company and Project Plan B, known as Project Re:claim, has begun operations in Kettering, Northamptonshire

A joint venture between Salvation Army Trading Company and Project Plan B, known as Project Re:claim, has begun operations in Kettering, Northamptonshire – the first commercial-scale, post-consumer polyester recycling plant of its kind that provides a solution to the issue of polyester textile waste.

The plant will recycle post-consumer garments and other textiles, and supply the raw material back into the fashion and textiles industries.

Many garments and other textile products are not designed with ‘end of life’ in mind, and most cannot be recycled. This greatly adds to the textile waste problem and Project Re:claim opens up opportunities for textiles to be designed for purpose, without any compromise to fashion, performance or the environment.

As part of the venture, Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd (SATCoL) has set up the new technology at one of their processing centres.

Tim Cross, CEO of Project Plan B, said: “In the UK alone, 300,000 tonnes of textile items are discarded into household waste, including polyester. Up until now, polyester that had no useful life left would have been disposed of. With this project, we can now save that waste and return it to supply chains. It’s a carbon saving, planet saving solution, and it plays a significant role in helping our collective journey to Net Zero.”

The machine was installed in January 2024 and is now fully operational, with polyester pellets being produced from polyester waste. The plant is on track to recycle 2,500 tonnes of unwanted polyester this year, with a further 5,000 tonnes in year 2, and creates polyester pellets which can be spun into yarn for use in textiles along with other industrial applications. The pellets are expected to be integrated into the manufacturing processes of new products later this year.

Majonne Frost, Head of Environment and Sustainability at SATCoL, said: “This partnership brings together the large-scale collection and processing capabilities of The Salvation Army, with the cutting-edge technology developed by Project Plan B and PURE LOOP. Together we are working together to bring new solutions and services, at scale, that will help create a textile circular economy.”

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