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Circular Textile Innovator Opens R&D Plant to Ramp Up Recycled Polymer Production

Worn Again Technologies, an upstart polymer recycling technology firm, has opened a pilot research and development facility as a major step on the path toward commercialization.

The facility is located at CPI, a technology and innovation center in Redcar, England. The pilot plant is designed to validate and develop Worn Again Technologies’ proprietary process that separates, decontaminates and extracts PET polymer and cellulose fiber from cotton from non-reusable textiles and PET bottles and packaging to re-enter supply chains as raw materials and become new products as part of a circular, continuous cycle.

Worn Again Technologies’ state-of-the-art process and pilot plant was designed and built with the help of leading equipment providers, the company said. The purpose of the plant is to develop further process data, knowledge and understanding to enable the business to set the technical parameters and scale the engineering design, as a step toward industrialization.

“The pilot is a significant step…as it will allow us to confirm and further optimize the different steps in the process in one unit, accelerating our engineering development to the next step of a demonstrator plant,” Nick Ryan, technology director at Worn Again Technologies, said.

Coordinated by Worn Again Technologies’ chief scientific officer, Dr. Adam Walker, the team began working with CPI on commissioning the pilot late last year. Experimentation will include testing of the process using various inputs to understand the yield and quality impact on the final product.

CPI is a founding member of the U.K. government’s High Value Manufacturing Catapult that, through its experts, helps to “ensure that every great invention gets the best opportunity to become a successfully marketed product or process.”

“It is exciting to have progressed our developments from lab to plant,” Cyndi Rhoades, founder of Worn Again Technologies, said. “While there is still a long road ahead, it’s the next tangible step getting us closer to a scalable, commercially viable industrial process that will enable the move away from using finite virgin resources to the circularity of raw materials.”

Founded in East London in 2005, Worn Again Technologies has attracted valued investors including H&M Group, Sulzer Chemtech, Mexico-based garment manufacturer Himes Corporation and textile producer Directex, as well as the support of influential brands and partners, such as Kering, Asics Europe, Sympatex, Dibella and Dhana.