New partnership tackles the challenge of wet textile waste


The purpose of the partnership FURT (FUnctional dehumidification of Recyclable Textiles) is to investigate treatment options for the textiles that are collected via the new household collection scheme for textile waste. The partnership will explore innovative and creative opportunities to find an environmentally sound alternative to incineration of the damp and wet textiles - for example by using dehumidification technology.

"Currently, a lot of textiles are discarded just because they are wet or damp. This is a problem that is often talked about. The FURT partnership can change this by providing facts instead of more talk. FURT will create new knowledge that can be used to improve waste management in the future." - Kaj Pihl, Environmental and Reuse advisor, UFF-Humana

The scheme for textile waste is the last in the series of the mandatory ten fractions for which the municipalities are obliged to implement household collection. The scheme was recently introduced in the first districts of Copenhagen – initially via sorting points close to the households. Experience from other municipalities' collection trials shows that damp and wet textiles make up a relatively large proportion of the total quantity which is collected. A solution that can reduce or eliminate this problem will therefore be beneficial for both municipalities and other actors in the value chain for textile waste. More specifically, the FURT partnership aims to:

  • plan and carry out pre-sorting, where the composition of the collected textile waste is investigated, where it is sorted into different qualities and where it is sent for recycling. In this connection, it must be ensured that any reusable textiles in the textile waste are sorted out for recycling, and that any damp or wet textiles are sorted out for drying.
  • establish a dehumidification concept in connection with this pre-sorting, which can ensure that any damp or wet textiles are dried, after which it is examined whether the dried textiles are suitable for recycling or potentially for reuse. It is planned that the dehumidification concept can be adjusted during the process as work processes and practices in the pre-sorting line are adapted to the new solution.
  • make two comparable environmental assessments: one assessment of the treatment as it is today, and one assessment of the scenario where the damp and wet textiles are dehumidified to ensure that this volume, to a greater extent than before, is sent for sorting and treatment rather than for incineration.
  • test the dehumidification concept on other waste types with a high content of moisture.

"The FURT partnership will work for more recycling of textile waste. Being responsible for collecting and reloading textile waste, it is of great interest to ARC to see if we can improve our handling in relation to the subsequent treatment with a view to increase recycling levels." - Esben Møhl, Operations Manager, ARC

"If it turns out that this dehumidification solution can easily be added to the existing logistics and that it is both an environmentally and economically sound alternative to incineration, the concept can eventually also be adapted to other moist waste types that we collect”, says Merete Kristoffersen, Head of Unit in Climate and Urban Development.

The project's partners are DTU Sustain, Polarkøl, Condair, UFF Humana, Revaluate, ARC and The City of Copenhagen, each contributing with knowledge from the relevant parts of the value chain, including collection and sorting, solutions for moisture management, environmental assessments and specialist knowledge within the area of textiles.

"The dehumidification concept is smart, as it can dry even the dirtiest clothes, regardless of the state of the clothes." - Nikolaj Thomsen, Sales Engineer, Condair