The theme for the 2023 Nordic Council Environment Prize is sustainable textile production and consumption. With this theme, the adjudication committee wants to focus on how the Nordics can be pioneers in the necessary transition of the entire textile value chain to bring about a circular fashion industry.
According to a study for the European Environment Agency from 2019, the textile industry accounts for ten percent of global industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and also adversely affects the environment by way of unsustainable land and water use and emissions of artificial fertilisers and chemicals. According to the same study, washing synthetic clothes accounts for 35 percent of the primary microplastics released into the environment.
As it stands, enough clothes and textiles have been produced worldwide to clothe several future generations. According to a 2018 study published in the scientific journal Environmental Health, 80 billion items of clothing are consumed worldwide every year. The majority of all clothes manufactured end up dumped or incinerated – on average, a truckload goes to landfill every second, according to calculations by the Swedish Ministry of Climate and Enterprise.
In a situation where we must first and foremost reduce consumption as well as extend the life of textiles and introduce circular business models, Renewcell’s pioneering process for recycling and reusing textile waste to make new textiles is key to closing the cycle in the textile industry and enabling a circular fashion industry.
Swedish company Renewcell is the first in the world to have a large-scale industrial process to give old clothes new life by recycling them into fibre mass that can be used to make clothes and other products from recycled textile material. Renewcell’s innovative solution derives from research that was initiated in 2012 at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm.
The company’s vision is to make the fashion industry circular through its patented process for recycling cellulose-based textile waste – such as worn-out cotton clothes or production waste – to produce a high-quality new material called Circulose®.
Renewcell has also breathed new life into old industrial premises and uses local expertise for more future-looking industrial operations. Innovations of this kind are key to the transition to a more sustainable and circular textile industry.
This Nordic company is paving the way for large-scale and circular fashion in the future, as the method can be applied and scaled up across the world.