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RFID Information System for Future Textiles

Use of digital information carriers (RFID tags) integrated in garments have the potential to greatly increase future traceability throughout the supply chain and facilitate subsequent sorting processes prior to recycling. The main aim of the project is to build the foundation of a digital system based on RFID to reach circular textile value chains.

Retail involves complex textile materials composed of several different fiber types, with different dyeing systems and surface treatments. New adaptive methods for identification of textile products are needed to enable traceability and ensure an effective sorting process that can handle fiber composition and chemical content in used textiles.

For several years, RISE IVF and partners have been looking into the possibilities to in retail use integrated digital information carriers, such as RFID tags. Digital information carriers integrated into garments have the potential to greatly increase traceability throughout the supply chain. They can also facilitate subsequent processes and lay the foundation for circular textile value chains.

Our work has verified the potential of the technology and identified a number of areas in need of in-depth analysis and increased knowledge to enable a future digital system for handling of textiles, built around information carriers that follow a garment. The future vision is a system based on RFID-tags with multiple functionalities, responding to the needs of different actors in the textile value chain. In the project Tex.IT, RISE and partners will continue this work, which is a key enabling technology for establishing circular value chains for textiles. The specific objective of this project is to build knowledge and competence regarding:

• Information system model
• System for data collection
• Overview of existing standards and mapping of standardization need
• Cost calculations and evaluation of ROI (Return on Investment)
• Implications of integrating digital information carriers in textile products

The suggested system towards which we are working has implications on several of the Agenda 2030 goals.

RFID technology has developed rapidly in recent years and is a very attractive potential solution for textile materials. An RFID tag can carry a large amount of data and is read when it is within range of a reader. At reading, the tag can be in the middle of the garment and covered with fabric (integrated) without affecting the quality of the reading. This greatly facilitates handling compared to, for example, barcode/QR systems, which can neither be read from a distance nor carry the same amounts of data. In addition, barcode marking must be picked out of the garment and displayed to its reader, which is not the case for RFID. An RFID system can be used adaptively and allow sorting of textiles based on the parameters specified. For example, the system would allow sorting out textiles containing a certain undesired chemical which has been regulated since the garment was produced. Alternatively, it would be possible to sort on "simple" parameters such as colours and sizes (for reuse) or on process parameters such as the dyeing system used (e.g. useful for chemical recycling by depolymerization). The technology would quickly and efficiently sort out textiles in a wide range of fractions according to the selected parameters, thus providing access to textile volumes suitable for different types of recycling techniques in a very efficient, fast, accurate and safe way with very small margin of error.

 An established technology of this kind directly influences the possibility of high value material recycling of textiles, returning it into the material cycle as a resource and preventing waste. In addition to laying the groundwork for completely new prerequisites for sorting and recycling textiles, labelling and tracking by use of RFID technology can also help manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers, as well as end-users and consumers, through improved information across the entire life-cycle and value chain. Improved inventory management, automated inventory, diminished losses and thefts are some of the quick and visible effects. In sorting facilities as well as in stores, the technology has significant effects on the working environment as several monotone and time-consuming steps can be automated and chemical exposure avoided. It provides better efficiency throughout the supply chain through lower costs and more effective routines. It also provides safer quality tracking with traceability throughout the supply chain, resulting in lower costs due to simplified return management at all levels and minimized risk of counterfeiting. For a system like this to be possible, it needs to appeal to all actors in the textile value chain, something that will not only aid in implementation but also to carry the cost of the technology.

As the Tex.IT consortium has been set up with the intention of including the entire value chain and several brands, exploitation and implementation of results are in focus throughout the project. The partners are actively involved in all parts of the process, ensuring that the system is set-up corresponding to user needs. For a system like this to be implemented, a broad consensus across industry is needed, as well as cross-sectoral cooperation and mutual understanding of possibilities and limitations.


Summary

Project name

Tex.IT

Status

Active

Area

Blockchain, Circular transition, Digitalisation, Internet of Things, Chemical processes and products, Resource-efficient cities, Textile

RISE role in project

Coordinator and Project Management

Project start

Duration

End date: 2021-06-30

Total budget

7 509 000 SEK

Partner

Almedahls, Boer Group, Boxon AB, FIDRA UK, Filippa K Group AB, Fristads Kansas AB, Föreningen Emmaus Björkå, Gina Tricot AB, GS1 Sweden , Innovatum AB, Peak Performance Production AB, RISE Acreo, RISE SICS, Rudholm & Haak, SIS - Swedish Standards Institute, Stadium Aktiebolag, TEKO - Sveriges Textil och Modeföretag Service AB, The European Outdoor Group, TPC Textile AB, TST Textile

Funders

Vinnova

The UN sustainable development goals

Decent work and economic growth
Industry, innovation and infrastructure
Sustainable cities and communities
Responsible consumption and production
Climate action
Partnerships for the goals

Coordinators

Project members

Lisa Schwarz Bour

Contact person

Lisa Schwarz Bour

Forskare

+46 10 228 48 07
lisa.bour@ri.se

Read more about Lisa