The first commercial-scale recycling plant for post-consumer polyester garments and textiles has opened, providing raw materials for clothing production.

With operations in Kettering in Northamptonshire, Project Re:claim is a joint venture between Salvation Army Trading Company (SATCoL), the trading arm of The Salvation Army, and garment recycling specialist Project Plan B.

The machine turns polyester waste into polyester pellets which can be spun into yarn for use in textiles along with other industrial applications. The pellets are expected to be integrated into the manufacturing processes of new products later this year.

The system is on track to recycle 2,500 tonnes of unwanted polyester this year, with a further 5,000 tonnes in its second year. It was developed with Pure Loop, a specialist in plastic recycling.

Tim Cross, CEO of Project Plan B, said: “In the UK alone, 300,000 tonnes of textile items are discarded into household waste, including polyester. Up until now, polyester that had no useful life left would have been disposed of. With this project, we can now save that waste and return it to supply chains. It’s a carbon-saving, planet-saving solution and it plays a significant role in helping our collective journey to Net Zero.”

Majonne Frost, head of environment and sustainability at SATCoL, added: “This partnership brings together the large-scale collection and processing capabilities of The Salvation Army, with the cutting-edge technology developed by Project Plan B and Pure Loop. Together we are working together to bring new solutions and services, at scale, that will help create a textile circular economy.”

Project Re:claim is supported by £630,000 in grant funding as part of the Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator (IEEA) Phase 4. The IEEA supports industrial-scale demonstrations of energy and/or resource efficiency innovations with the objective to cut carbon emissions.

SATCoL also operates the UK’s only automated textile sorting facility, Fibresort. Based at the charity’s purpose-built processing centre also in Kettering, Fibresort automatically identifies and sorts second-hand textiles by fibre type and is the first step in textile-to-textile recycling. Each year, SATCoL diverts over 250 million items to good uses, including over 65,000 tonnes of textiles.

Project Re:claim plant established by Salvation Army Trading Company (SATCoL) and Project Plan B

Project Re:claim’s recycling plant established by Salvation Army Trading Company (SATCoL) and Project Plan B