Innovation Fund Denmark has granted DKK 106.5 million DKK to a mission-driven partnership, which must ensure a circular economy for plastics and textiles in Denmark until 2050. The 92 partners must deliver on one out of four national missions that must contribute to the green transition. The first projects are ready for launch, and more will follow.
Clothes, shoes and other textiles are made up of many different fibres, which makes them difficult to recycle. The same applies to plastic waste, which is a complicated and mixed plastic stream. In contrast to materials such as cardboard, metal and glass, which we in Denmark are good at recycling, plastic and textiles therefore often end up in the incinerator, resulting in large CO2 emissions.
The two materials also burden the environment when they are produced, and longer durability of the materials and better recirculation will therefore contribute significantly to reducing the climate burden and a number of environmental burdens.
Can save tons of CO2
A new broad Partnership for Circular Economy for Plastics and Textiles consisting of 92 partners in the form of Danish universities, knowledge institutions, companies, clusters, municipalities and regions are now joining forces to kick-start a number of projects that, based on a holistic view of resource consumption, must ensure long-term durability and better recycling of plastic and textiles, which has great environmental and climate potential.
Towards 2050, it is expected that only the projects that kick-start the roadmap will be able to save greenhouse gas emissions corresponding to approx. 650,000 tons of CO2-eq.
The projects will, among other things, investigate how information technology can contribute to better waste sorting, how we design clothing so that it has a long lifespan by understanding user behavior – and how we can ensure that high-quality plastics from the healthcare sector do not go up in smoke, but are instead recycled.
– The government is investing significantly in the green transition. We have made a significant boost to green research, which contributes to achieving Denmark’s very ambitious goals. By 2030, we in Denmark must have cut 70 percent of our CO2 emissions, and 80 percent of our plastic waste must be removed from incineration. One of the tools we need to use far more is recycling. We must rethink recycling. Therefore, in the circular economy partnership, we have brought together the strongest actors in the field of industry, business and research. We turbocharge innovation to reach our goals. For the benefit of the planet, the climate, competition and the future, says Minister of Education and Research, Jesper Petersen
Partnership takes on a decisive role
In 2021, the Government and the Danish Parliament allocated a total of DKK 700 million. DKK for investments in mission-driven green research and innovation partnerships to achieve Denmark’s ambitious climate targets of 70 percent reduction in 2030 and climate neutrality in 2050.
Innovation Fund Denmark has realized the investments in four partnerships, including the Partnership for Circular Economy for Plastics and Textiles.
– Every day, enormous amounts of plastic and textiles are burned and go up in smoke, which results in large CO2 emissions. There are therefore great gains to be made by strengthening the circular economy and becoming much better at reusing and recirculating these materials. The gains come both in the form of less climate-damaging emissions and a cleaner environment and nature. The partnership will therefore have a decisive role in the green transition by contributing to a more sustainable use and recycling of plastic and textiles and thus contribute to ensuring that Denmark reaches the climate goals in 2030 and 2050, says Anders Eldrup, head of Innovation Fund Denmark.
The companies are crucial to reaching the goal
Danish companies play a central role in the partnership. In relation to plastics, this applies to, among others, Novo Nordisk and LEGO, while in the textile area it involves companies such as Bestseller and Ganni.
The partnership also includes companies and organizations with a focus on waste management, textile collection and sorting, including, among others, Marius Pedersen.
These and other strong players, including knowledge institutions, have extensive resources and knowledge, which will form the basis for new and better methods to be developed and quickly put into use in Denmark and scaled globally.
At Novo Nordisk, Vice President Dorethe Nielsen looks forward to the collaboration:
– I am very proud to contribute a business perspective to the important work of the Partnership for Circular Economy for Plastics and Textiles. The challenges are massive across plastics and textiles, but the solutions are not invented and scaled in silos. Only through strategic partnership across industry, knowledge institutions and universities can we fulfill the circular economy’s great potential for value creation, says Dorethe Nielsen, who is also chairman of the board behind the partnership.
14 interdisciplinary projects ready for launch
The companies will work closely with universities and other knowledge institutions, says Henrik Bindslev, dean of the Faculty of Technology at the University of Southern Denmark:
– These are large and complex challenges for which we will find solutions in the partnership, challenges that require close interaction between companies, researchers and authorities, as well as commitment from ordinary citizens. And in terms of research, it requires collaboration across many disciplines. Emergency friendly, but also exciting, says Henrik Bindslev. The Partnership for Circular Economy for Plastics and Textiles is already ready to launch 14 projects, all of which aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental impact caused by our use of plastics and textiles.
The Partnership for Circular Economy for Plastics and Textiles currently has 92 partners, who are led by a board of directors, where Dorethe Nielsen, Vice President Novo Nordisk, is chairman, while Henrik Bindslev, dean of the Faculty of Technology at the University of Southern Denmark, is deputy chairman.
Three workstreams have been established under the partnership; one on textiles, to be led by associate professor Else Skjold from the Royal Academy, one that goes across plastics and textiles under the leadership of Kristian Syberg, Department of Natural Sciences and the Environment, Roskilde University, and one on plastics, which Thomas Fruergaard Astrup, Institute for Environmental and Resource Technology, the Technical University of Denmark is at the helm.
Innovation Fund Denmark has granted DKK 106.5 million. DKK to the Partnership for Circular Economy for Plastics and Textiles. The partnership has drawn up the national Roadmap for a circular economy for plastics and textiles towards 2050, which today forms the basis of the Partnership’s Mission.
The Partnership for Circular Economy for Plastics and Textiles aims to develop, deliver and implement solutions that can contribute to a more sustainable use and recycling of plastics and textiles and thus contribute to ensuring that Denmark reaches the climate targets for CO2 reduction towards 2030 and 2050.