New life for old clothes


Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts is joining forces with Texaid to develop new methods for reusing old textiles. They could be turned into carpets or sound insulation.

Texaid collects some 37,000 tonnes of old clothes in Switzerland every year, of which around 30 per cent are in a condition too poor to be worn second hand. However, thanks to a partnership between Texaid and Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (HSLU) these clothes could be destined for other futures. 
Many clothes can, for example, be repurposed into carpets, according to a statement from the partners. They must first be spun into a heavy yarn – a process now being accomplished by Wollspinnerei Huttwil AG. For the best results, the material garnered from the old clothes should be melded with wool cutoffs from the mill. According to the statement, the first prototypes are promising.

Sound insulation is another potential outlet for the old fabric. Design and materials researchers at HSLU are currently developing methods to work short fibres and even dust, created by ripping the fabric, into insulation for interiors and facades. This is not without its challenges, however. Construction products for architecture must meet strict technical criteria, such as being non-toxic and non-flammable.

A further project could develop ways to create fine yarns from old textiles, which could be used to make new clothes.

Image: Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts

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