The New Cotton Project is a world first with twelve pioneering players coming together to demonstrate an entirely circular model for commercial garment production.
This week we meet Rui Martins from Inovafil to discuss his involvement in the project.
Please give an overview of your company and job role.
Inovafil is a new spinning mill located in the north of Portugal. The main inspiration behind the launch in 2015 was to design a spinning mill focused on driving innovation in the sector. I was invited to be the CEO and manage the project right from the start so I set up the layout, selected the machinery, handpicked and trained the team. Inovafil actually belongs to the Mundifios group, the two companies have a common strategy to support the market with a wide range of quality yarns, with Inovafil focusing on producing special blends.
What is your participation in the New Cotton Project?
Inovafil has a previous long-standing relationship with the Infinited Fiber Company, which is how we were introduced to the New Cotton Project. Our participation is focused on supporting the project with our knowledge of fiber development along with taking Infinted Fiber Company’s unique cellulose carbamate fiber and turning it into yarn. During the project we will be providing feedback to the quality group and running analysis on behaviour of the fiber to ensure we can produce the best quality yarn. Inovafil will support several yarn trials in the pilot spinning mill and also test a mix of blends with some of our other sustainable fibers. The ultimate goal is to ensure we can scale up an industrial level production of the high quality yarn for the partners, this will then be developed in garments.
What challenges and pitfalls do you think will arise in the New Cotton Project?
I think one of the main challenges but also one of the most valuable aspects of the project is number of members in the New Cotton consortium. Bringing so many participants from different sectors together to work towards one shared goal is complex, but it’s also incredibly valuable in facilitating the sharing of diverse knowledge and expertise.
Where do you see the greatest opportunities in collaboration?
This project is really helping to build the future of the textile industry and help solve one of its biggest problems; textile waste. For Inovafil, it´s an honour to participate in this project, being able to share and learn from each other. We strongly believe that innovation in the textiles industry will only be achieved through strong partnerships such as demonstrated in the New Cotton consortium.
Where do you see the future of circularity in the fashion and textiles industry?
We can see a shift in where circularity will need to be at the heart of the industry, products need to be designed to be recycled, demand for quality clothing made to stand the test of time will increase, along with the demand for high quality fibers. I believe that we need to find new sources of raw material and really scale the recycling of end of life products to reduce the need for virgin raw materials and reduce the pressure on natural resources.
New processes of “dissolving” textile waste, separating cellulose and plastic components and turning them into the base of the new raw materials for textiles or other industries will be the big challenge for the next stage of development in materials, Inovafil is happy to be able to contribute to finding a solution to this helping to build a more sustainable future for the textiles industry.