Japan’s Teijin Frontier unveils recycling technology for polyester
The textile industrial group Teijin Frontier unveiled a new technology on May 24 that recycles dyed polyester fibers without reducing their quality. Currently, only 15% of the world’s polyester supply, which accounts for 52% of fiber production, is made from recycled polyester. The dyeing process of this material however reduces the quality of the fibres obtained.
Tejin Frontier aims to address this problem using a new depolymerization catalyst system (or BHET). This process chemically decomposes and recomposes the material via a process that requires less water and energy than most commonly used processes.
Teijin Frontier intends to develop this new process as an alternative to using dimethyl terephthalate (DMT) and ethylene glycol, which are currently commonly used in the industry to convert used polyester into reusable fiber. Compared to material recycling which melts used plastic products such as bottles, DMT recycling results in less deterioration of the raw material.
Existing BHET catalysts had already proven effective in further refining the process, eliminating the need for DMT in the depolymerization and repolymerization stages. However, the quality of the polyester produced was reduced by the presence of interfering substances such as dyes and fixatives. Teijin Frontier’s new catalyst seems to have solved this issue.
The Japanese group announced that this new technology will be the focus of a pilot facility to be deployed at its industrial site in Matsuyama, a city located in southeast Japan. The project is part of the Think Eco environmental initiative launched by the textile group, which focuses on shifting its production towards sustainability.
Teijin Frontier posted sales of 6.83 billion euros (926 billion yen) in fiscal year 2021, up 10.7% year-on-year. The company specializes in the sale and import-export of yarns, fabrics, technical materials and clothing components, and also supplies fibres and textiles to the furniture, automotive and construction industries. Faced with rising raw material costs, the company expects to achieve sales of 7.4 billion euros (1,000 billion yen) by 2022, which would represent a growth rate of 8%.