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Designers and researchers team up to produce new high-end materials

The EU Trash-2-Cash project has, through the new pioneering Design Driven Material Innovation (DDMI) approach, developed new regenerated textile fibres from recycled textile products with the same high quality as the original products. A network of designers, researchers and manufacturers worked side by side throughout the development and design process to produce new high-end materials from recycled textiles.

Developing high-quality sustainable textile materials and products from recycled textiles which meet the demands of the target group is a complicated process. The Trash-2-Cash project was conducted using the new pioneering Design Driven Material Innovation (DDMI) method, which merges design, commerce and technology into a unified discipline. Designers, researchers and various experts in manufacturing, life cycle analysis, consumer behaviour, circular business models and automated recycling technologies formed a network to work side by side throughout the development and design process.

– Trash2-Cash is a complex project. In a regular design project, the designer receives a finished material that she or he will design clothes from, but with the DDMI method, they are already highly involved in the first stage of developing the material which creates completely new challenges, explains Roger Wisniewski from RISE.

Collaboration between countries and disciplines

Not only did project members come from ten different countries, but also from completely different disciplines. During the 3.5-year project, their collaboration evolved and they discovered new ways of communicating, understanding one another and sharing knowledge.

As a method, DDMI challenged all members’ traditional ways of working. Shaping the properties of a material that is still unknown can be compared to an experimental journey where innovation is generated collectively in the group en route. Everyone’s contribution is important and the process requires the highest level of commitment from all members.

– A DDMI process can be prolonged because it involves mapping all possible solutions before narrowing down the process and moving on to the next stage of development, says Roger Wisniewski. 

DDMI can be defined as a creative and iterative design-driven process. The project’s planned methodology aimed to facilitate knowledge exchange and disciplinary integration between different skillsets in the project so that the material technology would be driven from design, end-user and market perspectives, and also with a view to the material’s circularity (LCT).     


The Trash-2-Cash project aimed to test the concept that scientific material development driven by a creative design process could produce new materials that were both ready for market and in demand among the target group. In addition, the new materials and products should be circular (recyclable and reusable) and have minimal impact on the environment.

The Trash-2-Cash project began in 2015 and lasted for 3.5 years. The project presents a new model in which textile waste is chemically regenerated, resulting in new plastics and textiles that have the same quality as new materials, to make products that are industrially replicable and endlessly recyclable.

RISE acted as coordinator for Trash-2-Cash. Other partners were: VTT, Finland, Aalto University, Finland, Fundacion CIDETEC, Spain, The University of the Arts London, Great Britain, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark, Grado Zero innovation, Italy, Material ConneXion Italia, Italy, Tekstina, Slovenia, VanBerlo, The Netherlands, Maier S. Coop, Spain, Celanese SO.F.TER., Italy, Söktas Dokuma, Turkey, Reima, Finland, SOEX, Germany, SCA Obbola AB, Sweden, TEKO, Sweden