Recycling Textiles with Enzymes Results Mixed

Posted: March 2023

Category: New Markets

MRC sponsored a research study with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to explore the technical feasibility of recycling shoddy using enzymatic catalysis in a two-step process to convert its components into building block chemicals. The RPI team was able to demonstrate that enzymatic digestion can be an effective way to recycle cotton-polyester blends with varying compositions. Unfortunately, yields in this study were rather low and further research will be necessary. MRC continues to explore other alternative solutions for recycling shoddy and other mixed mattress fibers.

Discarded mattresses commonly contain shoddy felt pads used as a barrier layer between springs and comfort foam. Shoddy is manufactured by compressing scrap natural and synthetic fibers into a dense pad containing mostly cotton and polyester fibers. This material is very difficult to recycle into other useful products and is typically landfilled.