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The first circular economy facility for end-of-life textiles in Northern Europe started in Paimio

The circular economy processing facility for end-of-life textiles, located in the Green Field Hub in Paimio, is ready to start refining textiles into high quality raw materials. The facility hosts both Rester Oy, focused on handling end-of-life textiles from businesses, and Lounais Suomen Jätehuolto Oy (LSJH) who deal with end-of-life textiles collected from households.

The first North European circular economy facility to refine end-of-life textiles into recycled fibre on a large scale has started operating in the Green Field Hub in Paimio in Southwestern Finland. The facility is a collaborative project, where end-of-life textiles from both commercial and household sources can be processed efficiently. This is a significant step forward in solving challenges associated with the handling and reuse of end-of-life textiles.

Around 100 guests, environment minister Krista Mikkonen and media representatives gathered to celebrate the inauguration of the processing facility for end-of-life textiles in Paimio. From left CEO of LSJH Oy Jukka Heikkilä, minister Krista Mikkonen and CEO of Rester Oy Outi Luukko.

Rester Oy processes end-of-life business textiles into reusable fibres, aiming to build an internationally significant recycling solution model for textiles that have been collected from businesses.

“As environmental concerns grow and EU regulations tighten, there is growing interest on the producers’ side to move towards using recycled materials” says Rester’s managing director Outi Luukko. “Thanks to active collaboration with our partners, we’re able to directly influence the circularity level of the materials. We’re creating high quality raw material out of something that was considered waste, it feels rewarding to be part of this. We have been preparing for this moment for years, it feels good to finally start operations.”

The other production line in the facility is operated by Lounais-Suomen Jätehuolto Oy (LSJH). LSJH has created a local solution for tackling the end-of-life textiles that are accumulated by households, otherwise known as post-consumer textiles: they are turned into recycled fibres as well.

“LSJH’s aim is to solve the post-consumer textile recycling issue in Finland”, says LSJH’s managing director Jukka Heikkilä. “We have collected and sorted post-consumer textiles since 2015 and worked on textile recycling & processing opportunities through various projects during the last ten years. It is wonderful to finally be able to process post-consumer textiles into a new sustainable raw material for the textile industry.”

The two production lines can process some 10 percent of Finnish end-of-life textiles annually. The recycled raw material has already found its way into many products. Recycled fibre can be made into yarn, non-woven textiles, insulation, acoustic panels and filtration fabrics, as well as composites. There is an ongoing search for other uses for the fibres.

“The opportunities are endless”, Luukko and Heikkilä agree. “We invite all companies that are interested in further applications to come over and get acquainted with the material and the refinement opportunities it possesses.”

About 10 percent of Finland’s annual textile waste can be handled in Paimio. Photo: Jussi Vierimaa.

The Green Field Hub in Paimio provides growth opportunities for the textile industry, creates jobs and facilitates wide ranging co-operation in the circular economy of textiles – both domestically and internationally. The hub offers local businesses a launch pad into a multi-million-euro circular economy market.

“The in-depth cooperation with Rester and LSJH has inspired us to create a new service model” says Paimion Kehitys Oy’s managing director Mika Ingi. “We call it Paimio Circular Economy Campus, and it’s aimed at local businesses.”

The inauguration of the processing facility for end-of-life textiles in Paimio took place on November 2nd, 2021.