Stuff4Life will use the funds to collaborate with Teesside University to build a chemical recycling demonstration facility, bringing its academic specialists, research capabilities, and facilities on board.
The factory would utilize recycled workwear to recover the base component terephthalic acid (TPA), which is needed in the manufacturing of polyester fabric.
The recovered TPA would then be reincorporated into various manufacturing processes, with the intention of producing new polyester in the UK to provide a 'PPE for Life' opportunity.
Arco and Stuff4Life will collect, shred, and transport up to six tonnes of end-of-line polyester and polyester mix clothes as part of the experimental phase. Chemical methods will subsequently be used to recycle the clothing.
Arco and Stuff4Life will be able to support a circular economy for workwear if the plan succeeds.
TPA generated from chemical recycling would be sold back into the virgin polyester production process, with volumes audited and validated independently. Successful polyester recycling and the establishment of an onshore UK supply chain would lessen the industry's reliance on fossil fuels while also finding value in waste.
It will also help to reduce pollution from the production process because recycled polyester consumes 59% less energy than virgin polyester. If successful, this will go a long way toward addressing the global climate catastrophe.
David Evison, Arco’s managing director, said that as a fifth-generation family firm, Arco has always put corporate and social responsibility at the core of the organization. Their collaboration with Stuff4Life and Teesside University gives them the chance to make a real difference in the environmental and social impacts of workwear, and to use their scale and product development capabilities to drive an effective circular economy that supports local regeneration and protects more people and the planet.
John Twitchen, director of Stuff4Life, said that the modest hi-vis is an important item for everyone working in hazardous situations, from maintaining roads and collecting bins to saving lives at sea or over mountains. Polyester has a huge impact as a linear make-use-dispose garment, but by recycling it, those impacts can be significantly minimized while still retaining all of the performance benefits of synthetic fibers. They're excited to be working on such a significant project with the nation's best safety firm.
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