ITMA 2023: Recycling Tech

As ITMA 2023 concludes, after a weeklong exhibition in Milan, we take a deeper look at recycling technology.

Recycling is becoming an integral part of sustainable textile and garment manufacturing. This is being driven in part by the EU’s Strategy for Textiles, which calls for all textile products on the EU market to be durable, repairable and recyclable – and largely made of recycled fibres – by 2030.

Another key driver is rising consumer awareness and demand for sustainability.

The upsurge in recycling is leading to the creation of many new supply chain partnerships. But first of all, let’s look at what is takes to recycle.

What recycling requires

Here is ITMA’s list of machines and processes neeeded to manufacture recycled product:

 • Textile recycling equipment
• Waste water treatment equipment
• Separation of solid, fluid and gaseous substances from exhaust air and exhaust water equipment
• Heat recovery systems
• Waste management equipment
• Other waste reduction and pollution prevention equipment
• Accessories for recycling and waste reduction equipment

Recycling drives new partnerships

Innovative recycling partnerships are transforming the textile industry. At ITMA, the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing, ETP, offered a Recycling Technologies Tour which highlighted several of these.


Textile and nonwovens technology leader Andritz, for one, has partnered with with French companies Pellenc ST and Synergies TLC to combine automated sorting and fibre recycling technology.

Sorting is the first step in the recycling process, but the end use determines the sorting process.

The new business, Nouvelles Fibres Textiles, will establish post-consumer textile value chains from sorting to manufacturing. Its new textile sorting line will combine Pellenc ST’s automated sorting technologies with Andritz recycling technology. The line will be operational by the end of January 2024.

Recycling polyester

Erema Group, in Austria, has been working on a project that offers 100% PET fibre to fibre polyester recycling. With a dozen trial completed, machines are now ready to be sold. The process needs at least 97% polyester; it is not possible to process mixed fibres (cotton burns, for example). Erema will now shift to projects for dealing with sorting and collecting.

Horizontal and vertical recycling

Italy’s Cormatex works with post-consumer waste in the form of cardboard, packaging materials and textiles. These are turned into thermal insulation for packaging or construction.

They also make compostable packaging materials, and new mattresses from old.

Cormatex can make materials from 2 mm – 20 cm thick. Their system can also recycle leather.

Sorting II

Valvan, located in Belgium, is a specialist in sorting textile waste.

Sorting II

Valvan, located in Belgium, is a specialist in sorting textile waste. They have developed technology that detects fibre type by reading the wavelength of a textile’s fibres, which is an issue because the labels are not always accurate. Valvan has a patent pending on a “trim clean” machine that can remove everything that cannot go into the fibre recycling. Valvan says, “We can train the machine to detect anything.” On fibres, they have 99% accuracy on single fibre material, and a 95% accuacy on blends.

About ITMA

The 19th edition of the world’s largest textile and garment technology exhibition, ITMA 2023, opened 8 June in Milan.

This gathering showcases the forefront of innovation in the industry, unveiling cutting-edge technologies presented by 1709 exhibitors from 47 countries. Spanning 200,000 square metres of the Fiera Milano Rho venue, ITMA 2023 is the biggest textile machinery exhibition in the post-pandemic era.

The next ITMA will be held in Hanover, Germany from 16 to 22 September 2027 at the Hannover Exhibition Center.

Looking for info on wool recycling? Visit our Wool Recycling page

To source recycled wool, see IWTO’s list of Recycled Wool Fabric and Yarn Suppliers