KICKup - AI-supported, chemical cellulose cycles

German Federal Environmental Foundation


Development of AI-supported closed loops for B2B textiles made from cotton-polyester blends based on chemical upcycling


The end use of B2B textiles such as flat linen or workwear in industrial laundries has the potential to conserve resources and reduce the burden on the environment if they are fed into a regenerative fibre process. Specific used textile streams can already be subjected to a chemical fibre-to-fibre upcycling process in which cotton and polyester fibres are separated. The resulting cellulose pulp is used as an additive for new regenerated cellulose fibres and reused in B2B textiles. An ongoing project is demonstrating this using model textiles over several utilisation cycles as rental laundry. The repeatability of recycling in a closed loop, in particular the separation of polyester and cellulose for possible reintroduction into the regeneration process, has not yet been researched and is being modelled and evaluated as part of this project.

Our research approach focuses on developing closed-loop solutions for B2B textiles at the end of their useful life through chemical assessments and innovative design approaches for circular economy. This includes the design of yarns, fabrics, finishing processes and end products to extend life and promote recycling. One of the challenges is to ensure a defined amount of waste, improve sorting in textile service centres and create efficient logistics for recycling. The project aims to automate textile sorting in order to increase the proportion of post-consumer waste for recycling and reduce the consumption of raw materials. AI-supported technologies are used for sorting used textiles. The aim is to develop a logistics system for sorted textile quantities and to enable transparent identification of the flow of goods. A final life cycle analysis will identify the ecological benefits of the new cellulose cycle.


Internal project participants: Kooperation PAT (Prof. Dr. Karsten Rebner, B. Boldrini) & TEXOVERSUM Fakultät Textil (Dipl.-Ing.Kai Nebel)

Project partners:                       Hochschule Niederrhein, Dibella GmbH

Industrial partner:                     Lenzing AG, Södra Skogsägarna, Lamme Textile Management GmbH, Wäschereitechnik Jensen GmbH 

Project duration:                        01.01.2023-31.12.2024

Homepage KICKup:                   https://www.kickup.eco/

Contact person

[Translate to English:]

Head of Research Focus Sustainability & Recycling

Contact for internal and external inquiries on the topic of sustainability in the textile industry