Challenges and solutions for textile recycling - Interdisciplinary research in the Industry Research Group Polymer Recycling


According to the European Union's "Waste Framework Directive", which comes into force in 2025, textiles will be collected separately throughout the EU.  


It is assumed that by 2025 the separately collected amount of used textiles in Europe will increase to approx. 5.5 million tonnes [1]. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, only 1 % of collected used clothing was sent for so-called textile-to-textile recycling in 2015. In order to (further) develop recycling technologies and to sustainably manage material flows, the interdisciplinary and networked work of different actors is of great importance.

At the Institut für Textiltechnik of RWTH Aachen University (ITA), solutions are developed together with partners along the entire process and recycling chain in public or bilateral research projects. One example of this is the Industry Research Group Polymer Recycling (IRG). The IRG is a consortium of eleven companies along the textile value chain, ITA Technologietransfer GmbH and ITA. The long-term goal of the consortium is to research methods and processes to obtain high-purity recycling fractions from contaminated and mixed textile waste containing chemical fibres. The focus is on waste textiles made of polyester and polyamide. Within the framework of the IRG, experimental trials or literature research, among other things, are carried out by the ITA. In 2021, the IRG dealt with the following main research topics:

  • Research and market updates along the textile recycling value chain
  • Processing of post-consumer clothing waste on a macroscopic level - theoretical and experimental approaches
  • Processing of textile waste on a microscopic level - theoretical consideration

The results are discussed together with the partners. Topics of interest to the consortium beyond the project plan are covered in Expert Talks with external partners. The IRG sees itself as a platform and promotes exchange between the companies and the research institute. The first IRG Polymer Recycling Networking Day took place in May 2022.

Interested companies from industry and research can subsequently join the project consortium. If you are interested, please contact Ms. Amrei Becker (

  The IRG Polymer Recycling currently consists of eleven companies active along the textile value chain, as well as the ITA Copyright: © ITA


[1] Fachtagung zum Thema „Alttextilien – Akteure im Dialog“, URL:, Zugriff am 01.03.2022

[2] Ellen MacArthur Foundation (Hrsg.): A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion's future, 2017, URL:, Zugriff am 01.03.202



Amrei Becker



+49 241 80 24708