To be sure of safety for human health and no harm to the environment when recycling material, two of the largest companies in the world - IKEA and H&M have carried out a large-scale research in the field of recycling textiles and subsequent control over the situation. After analyzing the composition of used things, chemicals were found in them. The Fast Company reports disappointing results.
IKEA plans to transform itself into a circular company using only recycled and renewable materials by 2030. In doing so, she intends to comply with strict standards regarding the composition of recyclable materials. H&M also strives to follow this direction and plans to sew all manufactured products from recycled materials in 10 years.
In a new study, the two companies partnered to run thousands of tests on recycled materials to figure out how to reuse them. Experts took 166 samples of used cotton fabrics, crushed and conducted 8000 laboratory tests to determine the chemical composition. The results shocked them.
In 8, 7% of tissue samples, chromium compounds (a carcinogen) and heavy metals used in dyeing were found; 19.3% of the samples contain alkyl phenol ethoxylates used in the production of dyes and pigments, pesticides and cleaning agents, etc.
Company representatives comment that it is too early to draw conclusions from the first tests (although they lasted for several months), as further research with a lot of things will follow. But in any case, it is already clear that it is necessary to revise the traditional form of processing (chopping fibers into smaller pieces). And there are already examples of this - startups that break down textile waste to the molecular level, removing impurities and leaving almost pure cellulose.
Research ongoing today, including by these two companies, aims to help projects with innovative new recycling technology that will be able to filter out dangerous toxins and chemical compounds that undermine human health and harm ecosystems.