The world’s first large-scale plant for automatic textile sorting started operation at SYSAV’s facility in Malmö, the largest city in the Swedish county of Scania.
A 30-metre long machine has a sorting capacity of 24,000 tonnes of textiles per year and is reportedly expected to revolutionise Swedish textile recycling and create new markets for textile waste.
The SYSAV waste-to-energy plant is owned by fourteen local authorities. The sorting plant in Malmö is owned and operated by SYSAV.
The sorting facility was the result of SIPTex, a Swedish research project that tested and evaluated automated textile sorting by building and operating a pilot facility for 12 months.
With the SIPTex facility as a new part of the value chain, other players can scale up their processes and textile recycling accelerate. It is a sustainable investment, both for SYSAV and for the environment, according to SYSAV chief executive officer (CEO) Peter Engström.
Behind the innovation platform are several large Swedish textile, fashion and furniture companies, municipalities, charities, research institutes and authorities—a total of 20 players under the leadership of IVL Swedish Environmental Institute.
The plant will provide environmental benefits and strengthen Sweden’s position as a pioneer in innovation and the circular economy, said Anna Jarnehammar, deputy CEO of IVL Swedish Environmental Institute.
The automated sorting is based on optical sensors that, with the help of near-infrared light, can sort textiles according to color and fiber composition with high precision, according to media reports in Sweden. This makes it possible to handle large textile flows while at the same time producing textile fractions that match the needs of textile recyclers and textile companies.
In full operation, the plant has a capacity to sort 24,000 tonnes of textiles per year.