Europe faces a significant textile waste problem, with 7-7.5 million tonnes generated annually. Unfortunately, only about 30-35% of this waste is currently collected separately and less than 1% is recycled into new clothing.

However, by 2025 the collection of textile waste will be mandatory in EU Member States.

The majority of discarded textiles are made of cotton, polyester or their blends. The recycling of CO/PES blends is challenging for technical and economic reasons, resulting in significant quantities being disposed of each year. The objective of the PESCO-UP project is to develop a sustainable and economically viable process for upcycling mixed CO/PES textile waste into cotton and polyester products.

To achieve this, the PESCO-UP project aims to develop automated textile identification and sorting methods, as well as a digital product passport with a marketplace-style data space for sharing material flow data. These tools will support the matching of supply and demand for textile materials. In addition, the project will focus on the development of cleaning and separation technologies, as well as technologies that use the separated cotton and PES fractions to create valuable products.

By making fibre-to-fibre recycling sustainable, PESCO-UP aims to turn the textile waste problem into a business opportunity for European SMEs and to bring the textile industry back to Europe. This will also lead to a reduction in dependency on oil and cotton-based raw materials, resulting in lower CO2 emissions and water consumption. Furthermore, the digital methods and product passport developed in this project can be applied to other industrial sectors to address their recycling and sustainability challenges.

Press release 18 January 2024

Project website


Holistic Approach to overcome market barriers in textile recycling

PESCO-UP aims to transform the manufacturing sector into an enticing and competitive hub for the workforce while opening new avenues for companies, particularly SMEs.

The project’s approach delves into regulatory and socio-economic barriers to enhance the market appeal of innovative technologies.

Skills and Knowledge of Workforce

PESCO-UP assesses skills for deploying and operating the new technologies, focusing on digital competencies. We identify missing skills, implement targeted upskilling strategies, and create engaging training materials to share with industry and education stakeholders.

Raising Market Acceptance

Supporting EU regulatory goals, PESCO-UP communicates through diverse channels, spotlighting project results, innovative technologies, and the industry's environmental impact. It's about reshaping perceptions and making the textile industry more appealing.

Technology Transfer and Exploitation

PESCO-UP charts a course for technology transfer and exploitation, ensuring our groundbreaking technologies move swiftly towards commercial viability.


The project is coordinated by by VTT, the largest research and technology company and research centre conducting applied research in Finland

The PESCO-UP consortium is EU-wide and covers the entire textile recycling life-cycle.

Centexbel's tasks

  • Analysis of separated PES fractions
  • Thermomechanical processing of separated polyester fractions into fibre grade polyester
  • Chain extension of separated PES fractions
  • Melt spinning of polyester fibres (task leader)
  • Analysis of political, regulatory and standardisation aspects

Centexbel is leader of WG7 "demonstration of up-cycling of cotton-pes blend textiles to valuable products", which includes

  • Evaluation and selection of the best suitable purification and recycling routes
  • Development of a circular textile demonstrator (task leader)


This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon Europe research and innovation programme under the grant agreement No. 101138367.