Facilitating sorting and recycling of clothes using a digital thread.
Each year, 80 billion new articles of clothing are produced around the world, but textiles has one of the poorest recycling rates of any reusable material today.
One of the biggest barriers to textile recycling is that we often don’t know what the clothes are made of. To bridge this communication gap between manufacturers and recyclers, Natasha Franck and her team have developed a digital thread that stores all the content information needed to recycle each garment automatically.
The thread looks and feels much like a normal thread, but through RFID (radio frequency identification) technology, it can store digital information and be scanned from a distance. Lasting over the garment’s lifetime, the thread reduces waste throughout the entire supply chain and drives the transition to a circular system in which materials can be perpetually recycled.
In addition to facilitating recycling of clothes, the content thread can also be valuable for supply chain management, anti-theft and for creating “smart” connected clothing.
Since winning the award, the team has moved beyond proof of concept, to a commercialised strategy. They’ve built partnerships with global brands, that are purchasing and introducing their technology – and they’ve gone from only producing five sample threads to producing millions of tags in 2018.
“The Global Change Award gave us a platform to share the potential of our RFID technology to align business operations and sustainability. By accelerating the industry’s adoption and understanding of connected and circular fashion, the Global Change Award’s contribution has not only been paramount to the success of our company, but also paramount in powering the industry-wide transition to a circular economy,“ says Natasha Franck.
Team members: Anura Rathnayake and Natasha Franck
Country: USA and United Kingdom