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GAIKER-IK4, CTCR, BETA, LOGROTEX and EKOREC joined together to demonstrate the concept of circular economy in the footwear industry through the European project LIFE-ECOTEX, which will close the cycle of polyester textile waste from the footwear industry using chemical recycling to get new textile products.
The footwear industry is increasingly using polyester fiber in its manufacturing processes, as it is one of the most versatile synthetic fibers and it fulfills the requirements set by the consumer, such as: retain its original shape, not wrinkle and be soft to the touch.

The increase in consumption of polyester in the footwear sector entails a proportional increase in the generation of waste of this nature. Waste for which, to date, there are only two end-of-life alternatives: mechanical recycling, which results in low-value products, and landfill.

In order to provide an alternative to this situation, the European project LIFE-ECOTEX, arises, with the main objective of introducing the concept of circular economy in the footwear industry, closing the cycle of polyester textile wastes. Through chemical recycling new chemical monomers of high added value are obtained, which serve for the production of fibers for new textile products.

Coordinated by the Technological Center GAIKER-IK4 – specialist in recycling technologies - this research also counts with the participation of the Footwear Technology Center of La Rioja (CTCR) - expert in footwear technologies -, and of the companies BETA - sustainable energy operator-, LOGROTEX - manufacturer of nonwoven textile products - and EKOREC - manufacturer of synthetic textile fibers.

With a budget of € 1,226,379 the LIFE-ECOTEX, project (2016-2019) is 60% financed by the European Commission (Reference LIFE15 ENV/ES/000658 LIFE-ECOTEX), through the LIFE Environment program: dedicated to the environment and with the overall objective for the period 2014-2020 of contributing to the goals of the European 2020 Sustainability Strategy, including achieving efficiency in the use of resources by financing demonstration projects that can be replicated, transferred and which support environmental policies.

Throughout the 36 months of this research, both of the following processes will be demonstrated: the depolymerization process through catalytic solvolysis via glycolysis of polyester-type textile waste generated by the footwear industry, and the production of the chemical monomer (bis- (2-hydroxyethyl) -phthalate (BHET)) with sufficient quality to re-polymerize to polyester fibers and the transformation of the fibers to finally be used in the manufacturing of new textile products.


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