Closed Textile Cycle for Postconsumer Mattress
What is ECOMADE? In a collaborative process, Joel Hügli has developed three sustainable partial solutions for different phases in the life cycle with ECOMADE: 1. ten design principles for sustainable mattresses, 2. new generation of a comfortable and sustainable mattress, 3. closed-loop recycling of mattress textiles.
Up to 30 million mattresses are disposed of each year in the EU, with the majority going to landfills and incinerators. A variety of materials, including a significant amount of textiles, are combined to create mattresses. Hence, the disposal of postconsumer (PC) mattresses results in a significant loss of recycling potential.
Methods and Case Study
Via an applied case study, the research project ECOMADE examined the possibilities for recycling of communally collected PC mattress covers throug-hout Europe. In the case study, 500 kg of discarded PC mattress covers were gathered, dismantled, mechanically recycled, and turned into nonwovens, knitwear, and woven products. Nonwovens include 50%–100% tear fibers from PC mattress covers, while yarns contain 50%–70% of these fibers. Fresh R-PET fibers, PET/Co-PET Bico fibers, or cotton fibers were utilized for the blend, depending on the intended usage. Together with the industry, the nonwoven properties (thermobonding and/or needle-punching, 96–354 gsm) were assessed and put to the test on their production lines. Due to their low tensile strength, the yarns (open-end, Nm 18–40) were only tested on handlooms and hand knitting machines.
Results and Discussion
The findings demonstrate that a high-quality closed loop using mechanically recycled fibers from PC mattress covers for nonwovens is both reasonable and practical from an ecological standpoint. The use of the tear fibers in yarns makes less sense because the processability and durability are not sufficient for industrial use. There are still unanswered problems in terms of more efficient mattress cover processing, guarantee of hygiene, appropriate recycled fiber con-tent, and affordability.
The scientific article was presented and published at the Future Textile Conference 2023