Fibersort: Closing the loop in the textiles industry

Project Summary


The Fibersort Project seeks to address two main challenges: the environmental need to reduce the impact of virgin textile materials, as well as the development of new business models and open markets for the growing amounts of recyclable textiles in North-West Europe (NWE).

To enable this shift, the project expects to realise the implementation of Fibersort technology as the new industry standard and key value adding step to enable high value textile-to-textile recycling in the region.

The issue

Every year, 4.7 million tonnes of post-consumer textiles are thrown away across NWE simply because they have reached the end of their first use phase. This excess is an incredible opportunity to capture the inherent value of textiles, displace the use of virgin fibres upstream, and eliminate textile waste downstream. 

The response

The Fibersort is a technology that automatically sorts large volumes of mixed post-consumer textiles by material composition. This allows them to be recycled into new, high quality textiles. Once sorted, these materials become reliable, consistent inputs for high-value textile-to-textile recyclers. High value recycling technologies can transition low value waste into new, high value textiles and they are a critical link in the circular supply chain. Therefore, the Fibersort is a key technology that will enable textile resources to cycle repeatedly through the supply chain. 

Our role

Within the consortium, six partners from NL, UK and BE are cooperating to optimise and realise the widespread implementation of the Fibersort technology. The project partners represent three key domains needed to achieve the project goal: textile recycling, technology providers and market uptake and implementation partners. 

Industry engagement

Creating a circular textile industry is a massive job, and our success depends on collaboration across multiple sectors. Because of this, we are building a large network of stakeholders to focus on two specific areas.

  •  Textile collectors, sorters, and recyclers will help outline the new market for low value textiles, advise technology development, and provide perspective for the Fibersort business model.
  • Brands, retailers, and manufacturers will be able to preview the technology, map out their expectations for recycled textiles, and provide perspective for the recycled textiles business model.

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Project Partners

Lead partner

Organisation Address Email Website
Circle Economy 64 Mauritskade
1092 AD
Name Contact Name Email Country
Smart Fibersorting B.V. Hans Bon Netherlands
Valvan Baling Systems Maurits Vandeputte Belgium
Stichting Leger des Heils ReShare Simon Smedinga Netherlands
Worn Again Technologies Ltd. Cyndi Rhoades United Kingdom
Procotex Corporation S.A. Nicolas Douchy Belgium
Circle Economy - NL

Role: Project Management & Communication 

As lead partner the main role of CE is the financial management & project management (manage project goals, partner collaboration, internal communication and exchange of information, reporting). Within the Communication Working Package the aim is to develop tailored messages to target groups about the project’s objectives, results and benefits. Within Long Term Benefits WP CE expects to ensure the durability of the project’s outputs and results via engagement of key stakeholder groups and translating results to local context in several NWE countries.

Procotex Corporation S.A. - BE

Role: Test and verify outputs 

Procotex contributes to elaborate improved re-processing routes for sorted textiles originating from the Fibersort, leading to reproducible & controlled recycled fibre fractions that are optimally adapted for further re-processing into end products with an increased value (longest possible fibre length for applications in the spinning industry, short fibres for new reinforced products). The partner is also involved in creating a market study where different sorted fibres can be introduced as feedstock for textile-to-textile recycling (e.g. Cotton, Polyester, Polypropylene, Acrylic fibres).

Smart Fibersorting B.V. - NL

Role: Implementation; Set up the new pilot plant and validate the business model. 

SF is owned by Wieland textiles, which was involved in the Textiles 4 Textiles project. After this project not resulting in successful commercialisation, the partner took the initiative to re-develop the prototype with a different partner consortium. SF is leading the set-up of the demo plant as an extension of the current business. It is mostly involved with the continuous optimization of the operation of the FIBERSORT to enable best technological performance and improve the business case.

Stichting Leger des Heils Reshare - NL

Role: Implementation; Fibersort business case validation.

ReShare is looking to develop new business models for the low-grade recyclable textiles that they collect. ReShare is highly involved in the process of business model validation and contributes expertise on textile collection. In addition, ReShare has an interest in creating jobs for people with a distance to the labour market as part of their social mission as an organisation. 

Valvan Baling Systems - BE

Role: Implementation; Enable technological optimization & validation. 

The main role of VBS in the project is to contribute expertise on design, engineering and construction to optimize the technology in real life operating conditions (speed, accuracy, handling); support in the development of the recognition software and the fibre library; and the commercialisation the FIBERSORT machine itself to enable market uptake.

Worn Again Technologies Ltd. - UK

Role: Test and verify outputs 

WA's technology will rely on efficient fibre sorting technology to provide cost effective feedstock for their future licensed plants and thus represents a future market demand for the FIBERSORT. WA brings in depth knowledge of the existing end of use textile supply chain (e.g. barriers around feedstock supply for WA and other textile recycling technology companies) and contributes to the business model validation by aligning with their own pricing models and other market intelligence.



LT: Long Term

Successful implementation of new technologies requires inputs from all stakeholders.

Within this work package we are connecting with collectors, sorters and recyclers in the NWE target territory (NL, BE, DE, UK,FR) through a Working Group. We are also working with brands and retailers around the globe through one Producer Network. Both groups are contributing data and insights and helping to build reports and industry guides to accelerate the transition to a circular textile system. The Producer Network is also focused on increasing the market pull for recycled textiles. 

Working Group Deliverables

  • List of barriers, market needs, policies, and other factors impacting automated textile sorting.
  • One page reference sheet including
    • Common recycling feedstock grades
    • Materials availability within Europe
    • Certification expectations for collectors, sorters, and recyclers.
  • Case studies to highlight barriers and success factors impacting automated textile sorting
  • Report on policy recommendations to increase use of recycled textiles.

 Producer Network Deliverables

  • Report on the potential of end-markets for Fibersorted materials and business models for recycled textiles 
  • Report on policy recommendations to increase use of recycled textiles.


T1: Technology Validation

During this work package, the project team will validate the Fibersort technology, refine software models, and begin to optimise the material library. Reporting will be conducted regarding productivity and accuracy throughout the project. 


T2: Business Case Validation

This work package will focus on business case validation. We will optimise the Fibersort process with consideration for key parameters, such as fibre composition of inputs, production capacity, transport, waste and inputs costs, revenue streams, virgin resource prices, and market demand.



Communicating project progress and results is essential, as it engages a broad range of stakeholders in the project. It also communicates the outcomes of our work to a global audience. We will reach businesses involved in textile collection, sorting, recycling, product manufacturing and retail, NGO’s, municipalities, policy makers, and research institutions.

Communications will include baseline industry knowledge and insights required to broadly implement automated textile sortation as a key component of a circular textiles system. It will also help guide brands and retailers to incorporate more recycled textiles into their products.

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