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Yarn that unstitches garments into their constituent parts

Caroline Zöller

Published on 28.04.2020

More and more companies in the textile industry have signed up to the concept of the circular economy and the notion of using textiles for as long as possible. This demands smart recycling ideas that enable all resources to be fed back into a circular economy.

But how do you restore clothing to the production cycle as simply and quickly as possible? Cédric Vanhoeck and Vanessa Counaert of Resortecs ® asked themselves this very question. The founders of the Belgian start-up found a cost-efficient solution that also suited the industry and which made it possible to unstitch garments into their individual components again without any laborious and expensive manual labour. They invented “Smart Stitch”, a yarn that simply dissolves when exposed to strong heat and quickly breaks garments down into fabric, zips, buttons, sew-on patches and applications. Once it reaches a temperature of 130°C, the smart thread holding the individual components together simply dissolves, as the video demonstrates.

Winner of the Global Change Award

Resortecs ® won one of five prizes from Global Change Award in 2018 with “Smart Stitch”. The H&M Foundation Prize honours entrepreneurs who help create fresh approaches in different industries with novel, creative product ideas.

Resortecs ® received the award for a product innovation that greatly simplifies the sorting, re-usage and recycling of used clothing.

Feasability demonstrated by best-practice case in jeans manufacture

Furthermore, in a joint best-practice case with Unspun, a sustainable US jeans label, Resortecs ® also proved that the product idea has the potential to change jeans production long-term. It is possible to reduce the environmental impact of production by up to 50 percent. In this case study, the production and service life of a pair of fast-fashion denim jeans was compared with those of a pair of Unspun jeans manufactured on demand using “Smart Stitch” yarn. The 28 kg of CO2 emissions generated by the fast-fashion garment was reduced to 13 kg in the case of the Unspun jeans. These impressive CO2 savings were due to combining the 3d power loom manufacturing method used by Unspun with Resortecs’ ® smart thread.

Resortecs ® has offered to develop a customised sustainability timetable for manufacturers to support the textile industry in implementing such circular processes. The plan, which is developed using a combination of lifecycle assessments and possible financing models, forms the basis for achieving sustainability targets profitably. This is how Resortecs ® wishes to transform the textile industry and help set up a resource-saving circular economy.

Image: Markus Spiske on Unsplash