Södra is an international forest industry group based in Sweden consisting of more than 3,100 employees around the world. This Swedish pulp and paper giant was established in 1938 which deals with forest management, environmental conservation, product development, counting, and sales. They produce timber products, pulp for paper and textiles, and green energy.
Södra has started a project of recycling the textile waste which is also the world’s first recycling process on an industrial scale called OnceMore®. The material produced during OnceMore® process consists of recycled textiles content and wood cellulose which is obtained from their sustainable managed forests. OnceMore® technology was launched in 2019 with 3% recycled textile content which has now become 20% and their aim is to achieve 50% of recycled content.
Our recent interaction with Ms. Helena Claesson, Senior Project Manager Sodra, discusses the company’s ongoing recycling project named OnceMore Sodra which is dedicated towards a sustainable future.
YnFx: What led to the innovation of OnceMore Sodra?
Claesson: Södra is a forest industry company and we have produced pulp since 1959. Recycling is standard in the paper industry, today half of the world’s paper and the board comes from recycled sources – so it was natural for us to think recycling in textiles as well, even if we have a shorter history of making it (production of dissolving pulp since 2012). Today our customers long for recycling solutions and this inspired us to develop the process.
YnFx: What goes into the process of making OnceMore Pulp and how are the waste materials sourced?
Claesson: We are at the moment sourcing certified raw material mainly from laundries in Sweden and northern Europe. We are using post-consumer bed linen, towels, table cloth, etc. The other part of OnceMore® is certified, sustainable wood from family-owned forests in southern Sweden. Södra is owned by 53 000 forest owners and we are an economical association. We can use cotton but also polycotton post-consumer waste.
YnFx: How does the company encourage suppliers to enter the recycling system?
Claesson: By offering one way to recycle their used textiles. Today the material we use had otherwise ended up as landfill or had been burned. The textile industry is looking for solutions to establish a circular system.
YnFx: Can the recycled OnceMore Pulp compete with traditional pulp?
Claesson: Södra produces 160 000 tonnes of dissolving pulp each year. In our OnceMore® product, we blend in 20% recycled textiles in our wood based dissolving pulp. We intend to increase the content of recycled textiles to 50% in the future. Today we are completely outsold on our OnceMore® product so the demand is definitely there.
YnFx: What are the key achievements of the OnceMore Sodra project so far?
Claesson: In just a short time have we been able to scale up our process from grams to tonnes. We started working in the lab in 2018 on a gram scale and already in 2019 were we producing in tonnes. We can handle both cotton and polycotton post-consumer waste.
YnFx: What are the future goals of the company?
Claesson: We are aiming to scale up the process; in 2024 we will process 25,000 tonnes of recycled textiles each year. We are now using white textiles but will in the future also be able to handle colored textiles.
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