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Recycling of health-care textile, including single-use garments

Reference number
Coordinator RISE Research Institutes of Sweden AB - Jordbruk och Livsmedel
Funding from Vinnova SEK 2 337 983
Project duration October 2017 - January 2020
Status Completed
Venture Circular economy
Call Circular economy - Development & Innovation projects

Purpose and goal

The project intention was to explore the possibilities to recycle the large, both disposable and multiple use textile material waste streams, which are generated from health care annually. In parallel, Swedish-grown industrial hemp has been evaluated, but revealed too poor textile quality to strengthen recycled textiles (multiple use), as well as conceivable reinforcing fiber in Swedish-made composites, today including imported hemp. However, the medical textiles have been successfully "down-cycled" into useful materials, although of lower quality than originally.

Expected effects and result

The project has shown that both disposable and multiple use medical textiles can be recycled, mainly to a lower quality than originally, but have great improvement potential in terms of recyclability if wise choices of materials are made during product development. The project has also created contacts between regions, who handle procurement of healthcare textiles, material and product producers and recycling companies. Simultaneously, the project has concluded that one or more preparation steps are missing, in order to enable Swedish industrial hemp usable as textile fiber.

Planned approach and implementation

The good intentions of the project, involving many project participants in terms of several national regions, small local recycling companies, material manufacturers, a university, a farmer and research institutes, enabled a great exchange of knowledge between different industries and good opportunities for testing activities. A problem that arose, was the difficulty in maintaining commitment to the project over time as large staff turnover affected most of the participants during the project period. Nevertheless, the project has reached key conclusions and recommendations.

The project description has been provided by the project members themselves and the text has not been looked at by our editors.

Last updated 17 March 2020

Reference number 2017-03216

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