Tallinn University of Technology

2025 is expected to bring great news to environmentally-minded people!

The times when a garment was worn for years or decades are in the past. Although fast and cheap fashion has brought plenty of joy to people, it has also caused a lot of environmental pollution and created tonnes of garbage. How can science help solve this problem?

t-särgid tekstiilimaterjalid ümbertöötlus
Too many shirts! One possibility is recycling them into new materials (photo: Pixabay)

Scientists from all over the world, including researchers of material technology at TalTech, have been on a quest for years to find good solutions to the increasing mountains of textile waste, such as old shirts and socks which are often worn for a short time because they can always be replaced.

One possibility is recycling them into new materials. Over the last 3–4 years, the Laboratory of Polymers and Textile Technology of TalTech has aimed its research and development activities at solving this issue. They have developed several interesting materials, using crushed waste from various textile recycling factories as raw material. During the R&D works, they cooperated with the Viljandi Culture Academy of the University of Tartu and the Estonian Academy of Arts.

Tiia Plamus, the Programme Director of Materials Technology and Senior Lecturer of the Laboratory of Polymers and Textile Technology of TalTech, states that a material can be excellent, but without being attractive to consumers, it will be difficult to market. Therefore, cooperation with specialists from various fields is extremely important.

However, when looking at the bigger picture, i.e. the global waste problem, this step is not enough because there is still too much textile waste. We need a systematic approach and even better ideas and technologies as well as a shift in the mindset and behaviour of people.

The year 2025 brings new hope because a requirement to separate textile waste comes into effect in the European Union. ‘From there, we can work on this issue a lot more systematically,’ Tiia Plamus is delighted.

In the video (in Estonian), Tiia Plamus discusses this topic in greater depth.