GEA supports Circ towards resource-efficient fashion:a trend that won’t go out of style.

April 18, 2024

Albeit often overlooked in conversations about pollution, the fashion industry contributes more to global carbon emissions than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. Awareness of the need for sustainability and circularity in the textile industry has never been higher or the timing more urgent.

The beginning of the XXI century brought great changes in consumption patterns and the fashion industry offers a prime example of this with the number of garments purchased per capita shooting up 60% in 2014 in comparison with 2000, while items get disposed of twice as fast. Today, this translates into a garbage truck’s worth of textiles being dumped in a landfill or incinerated every second. If this tendency remains, a data extrapolation from the World Resources Institute shows that, among other indicators, the fashion industry’s greenhouse emissions will increase 50% by 2030.

The time to act is now. 

The largest portion of the environmental footprint left by producing new clothes comes from its need for raw materials – with cotton and polyester being the most widely produced fibers globally. Cotton production uses 3.3 million acres of land and six billion cubic meters of water annually while polyester production requires the use of 70 million barrels of oil each year and generates up to three times more carbon emissions than cotton.

“We’ve pioneered technology that returns polycotton waste back to the raw materials from which it was made, so fashion brands can reuse fibers and reduce harm to the Earth in the process.”

Luke Henning,Chief Business Officer at Circ

Undeniably, clothing makers need to transform their business models and their approach to materials now. Many companies have started acting, joining initiatives to use more sustainable and circular fibers, nonetheless, there is an urgent need to close the loop by recycling all kinds of textile fibers into virgin-like material to make new clothes. 

Passion attracts Passion.

Up until now, an effective recycling of textile fibers had not been possible. But Circ, our American customer and innovator in the field of textile recycling, is pioneering this space with a patented hydrothermal process that returns discarded clothing made of cotton, polyester and polycotton back into raw materials for new clothing production.
“Solve Big Problems” – is one of Circ’s principles to operate by and that is why, when it came to choosing a partner for the complex process that is textile recycling, they chose GEA for the monomer recovery process part. 
To exactly meet its targets in monomer recovery and co-product treatment, Circ is working with GEA because of our decades-long expertise in evaporation, crystallization, heat transfer, mixing, solid/liquid separation, distillation and drying -all with the goal of producing PET chips out of discarded garments to use them for producing new clothes.

“Circ’s team was just as passionate as us when it came to developing the perfect plant, the energy was such, that the relation turned into a partnership.”

Laurent Palierne, Director Evaporation & Crystallization at GEA

For Circ’s unique plant design, GEA made use of all its garnered experience in process design and took it several steps further with a new design space for crystallization – an especially challenging stage due to the high temperature and pressure requirements as well as the rheological behavior of the handled slurry. 
Tackling one of the most pressing issues of our time, as it is reducing waste and bringing circularity to an industry that has struggled with achieving it in the past, was the engine that kept GEA expert engineers motivated throughout this challenging project. Three different GEA locations in two different countries (France and Germany) were involved -all concentrated on the same objective: delivering to Circ’s exact specifications with the highest quality and the optimal energetic and economic value.

“Working with the GEA engineering team at their design offices in France has been a pleasure. The GEA design team is willing to communicate promptly and is highly flexible in overcoming design challenges. We look forward to continuing working with GEA on further process design development, which will enable Circ to successfully execute the first 100% poly-cotton textile recycling facility of its kind worldwide.” 

Farid Ghaderi, SVP Engineering at Circ

Working alongside Circ at the core of such a groundbreaking project that could very well change the course of a whole industry makes us incredibly proud and aware of the power that excellent engineering has, to turn into reality things that not long ago seemed unlikely. We warmly congratulate Circ for its achievements and look forward to keep on working together, engineering for a better world.

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