DIF 2018 Trash-2-Cash Podcast


In this, our final podcast, specially prepared for the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Disruptive Innovation Festival (DIF) 2018, we’ve taken highlights from each of the podcasts in the series to tell the story of Trash-2-Cash through the words of the scientists, researchers, academics, manufacturers and designers involved. We also reflect back on the unveiling of the project results at Dutch Design Week and the reception received.

Listen on Soundcloud or iTunes now!


Meet Christian


At Milan Furniture Fair this May, Professor Becky Earley of UAL sat down with project facilitator Christian Tubito of Material Connexion Italia to reflect on the successes and challenges of the project and what they were hoping to achieve at the Dutch Design Week exhibition.

Christian talks about his background and work in material innovation and design strategy, what it was like to collaborate with so many partners in a Design Driven Material Innovation process and his time travelling adventures up and down the project GANTT chart!

Listen on Soundcloud or iTunes now!


Meet Giada


As a designer at the forefront of materials innovation for bespoke product prototyping, Giada Dammacco's material world involves words like 'piezo-electric', 'double-face' and 'shape-shifting'. 

Here she talks to Rebecca Earley about the unique interdisciplinary set-up within the  organisation she co-founded - GradoZero - how her interest in circularity brought her into the Trash-2-Cash project and how continual learning feeds her design and materials innovation process.

Listen on Soundcloud or iTunes now!


Zdravo!: Reporting from workshop 10


The snowy mountains of Ajdovščina, Slovenia, greeted the Trash-2-Cash participants as they arrived for workshop 10 in early February.


As the project has progressed, so has our understanding of the ideal format for these project workshops. Now each participant has the opportunity to arrange focused ‘pre-meetings’ with one another before the main workshop begins, allowing people to discuss pressing issues face-to-face, which is so important for effective collaboration.

Each time we meet, the ‘Master cases’ have evolved with even more detail. When designers presented their concepts on Day 1 it was really exciting to see all of the different elements coming together: design ideas, material samples, prototypes, business models and life-cycle thinking. From what was an extremely murky beginning, now six concepts are emerging with ever-increasing clarity and tangibility. 

At each workshop the multi-disciplinary expertise adds a new layer to the master cases and this time it was all about building the ‘story’ behind the concept through the eyes of a customer, to better understand appropriate business models and market potential. The final session of the day focussed on the project methodology, asking the question: ‘what do we need in order to work in this way?’. At this stage in the project people are starting to reflect and realise what was important in the project and what was missing, and some consensus around these insights will help us to build a model for Design Driven Material Innovation (DDMI).

Tekstina hosted a wonderful evening for partners – one of the points highlighted in the previous session was that it’s so important to build social relationships as well as working ones, and seeing some of the local Slovenian culture helped understanding and cross-cultural relations enormously.    


Day 2 involved a more in-depth exploration of the business and life-cycle aspects of the master cases. It’s really about the ‘nitty gritty’ now; how to fine-tune the concepts and what we need to do in the final few months of the project to maximize material innovation.  

Then a fascinating tour of Tekstina’s textile production facilities, which gave insights not only into how the materials are produced but also the incredible knowledge and expertise of our hosts.

Finally, the ever important issues around how to use the knowledge we gain from the project after the funding ends. Projects like this are not only three years of research, they are stepping stones along the path to realizing new lower-impact clothes in shops and in peoples’ wardrobes, and new cars on the road. Most importantly it’s about real products made from innovative new materials that are part of an effective circular system, where ‘waste’ simply isn’t an issue because end-of-life products are valuable raw material for new production.        


Building bridges in Helsinki: Reporting from workshop 09

Design Museum Helsinki

Design Museum Helsinki


Finland, with its densely rich forests and scattered islands, provided the perfect backdrop to workshop 09 in its capital, Helsinki. Hosted by Aalto University over a period of three days, workshop 09 was based at The Design Museum in the historic centre and at Espoo, a stunning tree covered campus.


A pre-workshop session between the Methodology Team took place at Aalto Arts on Tuesday 19 September, where the partners discussed the methods models created to date, and began the process of crafting the meta-model for Design Driven Material Innovation (DDMI). A big black bus then took the team to The Design Museum, for a book launch and seminar for ‘Lost in the Woods’. Trash-2-Cash partners – Christian Tubito (Material Connexions Italy), Helena Wedin (Research Institutes of Sweden) and Michael Hummel (Aalto Arts) – presented results and insights from the project to date, to an audience of design-hungry students and public. (View ‘lost in the wood(s) book launch and seminar event’ blog post.)

Day 1 of Workshop 09 was centred around the academic partners meeting to discuss the ‘Master cases’ – concepts shortlisted from 33 ideas to 7 - covering fashion, new generation plastics and automotive interiors. Environmental impact, LCA, innovation, realistic business models and feasibility all had to be considered in great depth before arriving at these decisions. The main purpose of the workshop as a whole was to decide how to turn these cases into successful design products and prototypes.

The day began with an overview of the whole project along with thorough presentations of the 7 master cases.  This was followed by interactive and discussion sessions to assess how to move each case forward. Honest and difficult conversations were had, essential to innovation success.

To break from the intensity of the day a tour of the design museum was given with particular reference to the ‘Enter and Encounter’ exhibition, featuring work from Aalto University’s New Biomateriality Lab and referencing Trash-2-Cash work.

On day 2 the consortium was very much ‘Lost in the Wood (s)’ on a cold misty morning at the green leafy Aalto University campus in Espoo, where Aalto Chem are based. Surrounded by nature and spending most of the day in what looked like a luxury tree house, all technical aspects of the project were analysed. Manufacturing streams, recycling and business scenarios were all debated and discussed at length and processes put in place to move towards fully-formed prototypes. Existing and potential challenges were also addressed.

A tour of the Aalto Chem laboratories provided a fascinating insight into regenerated cellulose processing.  It was inspiring for everyone to be in a scientific environment free of harmful chemicals and that focussed on circular innovation.

The highlight of the day was to see the results of new Trash-2-Cash yarn and fabric developments. Despite the challenges ahead and technical aspects still to resolve, excitement was in the air as the consortium could see the potential and positive impact final realised prototypes and product designs will have on the environment and on industry.

At this important turning point fully formed products can now begin to emerge. Watch this space!



Silence Shirts presented at INTERSECTIONS 2017


Trash-2-Cash’s Becky Earley (UAL) presented the Silence Shirts project - a collaborative research methodology experiment undertaken during T2C workshops - at the INTERSECTIONS 2017 conference exploring collaboration in textile design research.


The Silence Shirts project demonstrates how the activities of silent meditation and portraiture were employed as effective tools in the establishment and development of the relationships between the designers, scientists and industry participants collaborating on the T2C research project.

Silence Shirts aimed to navigate issues that can be barriers to effective collaboration, such as language, culture and competence, by establishing a shared ‘baseline experience’ as a foundation from which the collaborations could be fostered.

A conference paper - titled ‘A meditation on the faces of circular textile research’ - co-authored with Rosie Hornbuckle (UAL) presented three experiments conducted to provoke new insights into the roles, knowledge and expertise of the members of the group which resulted in the project’s first co-created garment, the Silence Shirt, featuring a print design by Professor Earley collaged from the portraits painted by members of the project team.

Organised by the Textile Design Research Group at Loughborough University and held at the University’s London campus on 13 September 2017, the one-day conference examined case studies that reveal unusual connections and cross- or interdisciplinary collaborations in research in the fields of textile and textile design. The conference was accompanied by an exhibition of the work that emerged through the collaborations, including the Silence Shirt.

The Silence Shirt was also featured in the 2017 Biennial of Design in Ljubljana - BIO25 - as part of the ninth edition of Shirtings, a socially responsive initiative that offers unique shirts by Slovenian and London-based designers as ‘social-objects’ to be the 'responsibility' of a user for 10 days before being passed on to the next participant.


Meet Cansu


In the latest T2C podcast, Professor Becky Earley catches Cansu Musaoğlu, head of the dyeing department at Turkish textile producer and T2C partner Söktaş, just before she departs for her new position at a private university in Istanbul.

Recorded upon the conclusion of T2C Workshop 8 in Bilbao, Spain, Becky and Cansu discuss the drivers of sustainability for Söktaş, the importance of sustainability to their customers and how Design Driven Material Innovation (DDMI) has given Söktaş’ R&D department a completely new perspective and approach.

Söktaş is a fully integrated producer of cotton and cotton-blended fabrics for shirts, jackets and trousers, supplying many of the world’s leading fashion labels. As T2C partner Söktaş are key in the supply of cotton to textile waste, research on recycling products, fabric production from recycled yarn, laboratory testing and the production of prototypes.

Listen on Soundcloud or iTunes now!


Lost in the Wood(s) book launch and seminar event


T2C partner and host of the next T2C workshop in Helsinki, Aalto Arts are celebrating the launch of a new biomaterial-focused publication Lost in the Wood(s), a new Biomateriality in Finland with a seminar event at Design Museum Helsinki next month. 


Taking place September 19th, the seminar agenda includes a series of talks by T2C partners, including: Presenting the Trash-2-Cash project by Emma Östmark, Director of Sustainable Textile Fibres at the RISE Research Institute of Sweden; Interdisciplinary collaboration for material innovation by Christian Tubito, Project Manager of Research & Innovation at Material Connexion Italy; Waste-free future of the fashion industry - the chemistry behind it by Michael Hummel, Staff Scientist at Aalto University School of Chemical Engineering; and The need of improvements in textile sorting of garments for textile-to-textile recycling by Helena Wedin, Researcher at RISE Research Institutes of Sweden.

The second part of the event presents the new Aalto ARTS Books publication Lost in the Wood(s), edited by Pirjo Kääriäinen and Liisa Tervinen. Through inspiring case studies (including the T2C project) and stories from researchers working intimately with biomaterials, the book explores how Finland’s natural resource – renewable biomaterials, such as cellulose – could replace oil-based resources and create new business and service models through design and collaboration.

The seminar and book launch coincide with the current Biomateriality Lab installation, part of Design Museum Helsinki's Enter and Encounter exhibition, exploring new, primarily wood-based, Finish biomaterials developed through multidisciplinary research projects at Aalto University. The exhibition is open until 22nd October 2017.

Buy the book from the Aalto Arts online shop.

Time: Tuesday 19th September, 15:00 - 18:00
Location: Design Museum Helsinki auditorium, Korkeavuorenkatu 23, Helsinki, Finland
Organizers: Professor Kirsi Niinimäki, Team Leader of the Fashion/Textile FUTURES research group, Aalto University, and Pirjo Kääriäinen, Designer in Residence at the Fashion/Textile FUTURES research group, Aalto University


T2C present at MATCOMP 2017


Trash-2-Cash research innovations by partners Cidetec were presented at the MATCOMP 2017 congress in San Sebastian, Spain (21-23 June)


Matcomp provides a forum for the presentation and discussion of R&D led projects in the field of composites and high performance materials.

Virginie Boucher and Aratz Genua from CIDETEC presented their research findings as a poster entitled “Recyclable thermoset composites derived from waste textiles”

The display was presented as part of the “Recycling and sustainability” themed session and highlighted how reinforced plastics can find applications in untapped industry sectors, through design driven technologies in a circular economy.

From a technical perspective, the poster explained the production of recyclable thermoset composites made with fabrics obtained from waste textiles and epoxy or polyurethane resins. The visuals also addressed the process of how fibre and resin can be recovered for reuse.

The project was extremely well received and Cidetec continue with their research innovations for Trash 2 Cash.


T2C at Autex International 2017


At the end of May T2C researcher Professor Rebecca Earley attended the Autex International Textiles conference 2017, themed 'Shaping the Future of Textiles'.


The venue was in sunny Corfu, where 412 delegates met over three days to see 309 papers and 118 posters.

Rebecca presented a paper written with Dr Rosie Hornbuckle which explored the use of the simple postcard as a communication tool within the project; 'Postcards from the Edge: Trash-2-Cash communication tools used to support inter-disciplinary work towards a Design Driven Material Innovation (DDMI) methodology'.

In this paper, postcards from the EU funded Horizon 2020 Trash-2-Cash (2015-2018) project - completed by workshop participants – were presented in three tables with a focus on how they contributed to the building of communication channels, shared understanding and methods, in this inter-disciplinary consortium work. This inter-disciplanarity is key to achieving the project aims – but communication between sectors is challenging due to diverse expertise and levels of experience; language and cultural differences can also be barriers to collaboration as well. Designing easy and accessible, even fun, communication tools are one of the ways to help build relationships. 

The cards reviewed were used in Prato (November 2015), Helsinki (February 2016) and London (November 2016). The paper concluded with insights for the ongoing development of the project communications work towards the Design Driven Material Innovation (DDMI) methodology, due to be presented at the end of the project in 2018. 

Conference proceedings will be published in due course; for more information go to the Autex website.


T2C at Milan Design Fair

Milan’s mayor Giuseppe Sala [left] visiting T2C both with MCI CEO Emilio Genovesi

Milan’s mayor Giuseppe Sala [left] visiting T2C both with MCI CEO Emilio Genovesi


Between 4-9 April 2017 Material Connexion Italia (MCI) presented the work of Trash-2-Cash at the Milan Design Fair.


This year’s Materials Village focused on the theme “New Materials for a Smart City” [with the patronage of the Municipality of Milan] and featured a dedicated booth for T2C including the first material samples to emerge from the project. 

The Materials Village was hosted at Superstudio Più, one of the most renowned locations of Fuorisalone [the design fair that takes place on the same days as the Salone Internazionale del Mobile]. This year more than 130,000 visitors came through the Superstudio Più, a mix of design professionals, and the design-oriented public.

The “New Materials for a Smart City” exhibition also included a podium space where discussions and presentations related to innovation and smart manufacturing were held on a daily basis with over 1,000 participants. As the T2C booth was at the entrance to this area it was well-visited and attracted a good response from groups of people who will be interested in the eventual outcomes of our research. 

Check out an album of photos from the event on the T2C Facebook page. 

Veronica Sarbach, Material Connexion Italia


Upcycling fast fashion...


...To Reduce Waste & Pollution

T2C partners Aalto Chem presented their research earlier this month at a meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). You can see the full press conference with Simone Haslinger and Dr Michael Hummel on YouTube, or read on for the ACS account of the event. 


SAN FRANCISCO, April 2, 2017 — Pollution created by making and dyeing clothes has pitted the fashion industry and environmentalists against each other. Now, the advent of “fast fashion” — trendy clothing affordable enough to be disposable — has strained that relationship even more. But what if we could recycle clothes like we recycle paper, or even upcycle them? Scientists report today new progress toward that goal.

The team will present the work at the 253rd National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS, the world’s largest scientific society, is holding the meeting here through Thursday. It features more than 14,000 presentations on a wide range of science topics.

“People don’t want to spend much money on textiles anymore, but poor-quality garments don’t last,” Simone Haslinger explains. “A small amount might be recycled as cleaning rags, but the rest ends up in landfills, where it degrades and releases carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas. Also, there isn’t much arable land anymore for cotton fields, as we also have to produce food for a growing population.”

All these reasons amount to a big incentive to recycle clothing, and some efforts are already underway, such as take-back programs. But even industry representatives admit in news reports that only a small percentage gets recycled. Other initiatives shred used clothing and incorporate the fibers into carpets or other products. But Haslinger, a doctoral candidate at Aalto University in Finland, notes that this approach isn’t ideal since the carpets will ultimately end up in landfills, too.

A better strategy, says Herbert Sixta, Ph.D., who heads the biorefineries research group at Aalto University, is to upcycle worn-out garments: “We want to not only recycle garments, but we want to really produce the best possible textiles, so that recycled fibers are even better than native fibers.” But achieving this goal isn’t simple. Cotton and other fibers are often blended with polyester in fabrics such as “cotton-polyester blends,” which complicates processing.

Previous research showed that many ionic liquids can dissolve cellulose. But the resulting material couldn’t then be re-used to make new fibers. Then about five years ago, Sixta’s team found an ionic liquid — 1,5-diazabicyclo[4.3.0]non-5-ene acetate — that could dissolve cellulose from wood pulp, producing a material that could be spun into fibers. Later testing showed that these fibers are stronger than commercially available viscose and feel similar to lyocell. Lyocell is also known by the brand name Tencel, which is a fiber favored by eco-conscious designers because it’s made of wood pulp.

Building on this process, the researchers wanted to see if they could apply the same ionic liquid to cotton-polyester blends. In this case, the different properties of polyester and cellulose worked in their favor, Haslinger says. They were able to dissolve the cotton into a cellulose solution without affecting the polyester.

“I could filter the polyester out after the cotton had dissolved,” Haslinger says. “Then it was possible without any more processing steps to spin fibers out of the cellulose solution, which could then be used to make clothes.”

To move their method closer to commercialization, Sixta’s team is testing whether the recovered polyester can also be spun back into usable fibers. In addition, the researchers are working to scale up the whole process and are investigating how to reuse dyes from discarded clothing.

But, Sixta notes, after a certain point, commercializing the process doesn’t just require chemical know-how. “We can handle the science, but we might not know what dye was used, for example, because it’s not labeled,” he says. “You can’t just feed all the material into the same process. Industry and policymakers have to work on the logistics. With all the rubbish piling up, it is in everyone’s best interest to find a solution.”

The researchers received funding support from the European Union’s Trash-2-Cash project and the Finnish government.

This press release was originally published by the American Chemical Society. The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With nearly 157,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. ACS does not conduct research, but publishes and publicizes peer-reviewed scientific studies. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.


Chemically recycled garment prototype


Presented in Stockholm, 3-4 April 2017

Last year a team from Finland (including T2C partners Aalto University and VTT, alongside University of Helsinki) won the Global Change Award (GCA), an annual innovation challenge organised by the H&M foundation*.


Their entry was to ‘Make waste cotton new’ using Ioncell-F technology. Since last year’s award, Aalto University has been prototyping various knit structures using Ioncell-F yarns, and at this year’s awards Pirjo Kääriäinen from Aalto’s GCA winning team and Essi Karell from T2C have exhibited a garment prototype to demonstrate how far they’ve come in 12 months.

The prototype is a translucent ivory coloured top with delicate frilled detailing. The fabric resembles linen, with the softness of cotton. The top is constructed with a combination of hand and machine stitching.

Essi Karell, Doctoral Student from T2C partner Aalto says “Although the samples of chemically recycled materials we are currently knitting and testing are small, they provide strong evidence of what is possible, and will hopefully inspire designers to adopt circular practices resulting in a real change in the fashion industry.”

The prototype was also shown in the H&M Change Makers Lab at Fotografiska, Stockholm. This event brought together around 250 change makers (including partners, innovators, governments, investors, trade unions, NGO's, other brands) to:

  • explore how to accelerate the shift from linear to circular
  • understand the potential of new technologies and transparency
  • emphasise the power of human rights and social impact

and, most importantly, to collaborate and challenge the existing practices together.

*More about H&M Global Change Award and the winners here. A €1 million grant is shared by five winners that show potential to shape the fashion industry and to help protect the planet. This year the grant was divided according to the public's votes at Stockholm City Hall, 4 April 2017.


Meet Gustav


In the latest T2C podcast, researcher Gustav Sandin explains how the Lifecycle Assessment tool can be used to determine the impact of everyday products like jeans or hospital gowns, services like clothing libraries, or processes like the washing of clothes.

It’s about understanding the entire context of the product or service, not just the materials they’re made from. Gustav’s work identifies where the hot spots are, and how these might be managed out to make a real and measurable difference.

Gustav (from RISE - Research Institutes of Sweden) describes how modelling garment lifecycles is a kind of environmental mythbusting, and how passionate he personally feels about achieving a significant reduction in environmental impact through the research projects he is involved in.

Listen on Soundcloud or iTunes now!


Dynamic Duos


Exploring Design-Science Material Innovation Partnerships.


Materials research has developed rapidly in recent years, in both the scientific field and through design exploration. Design-science collaborations are emerging which create new directions and conversations in materials development. Outlooks and mindsets are changing through these collaborations to challenge traditional approaches and established disciplinary boundaries. 

The aim of this one-day seminar was to explore new ways of thinking by inviting existing design and science collaborators to present their work together, from their own unique perspectives. 

Dynamic Duos was curated within the context of the Trash-2-Cash (T2C) project which aims to apply a ‘design-driven’ approach to the development of new, regenerated textile fibres. 

Framing the event – current work at TED 

The day started with an introduction from Professor Rebecca Earley and Dr Kate Goldsworthy from the Textile Environment Design (TED) research group based at Chelsea College of Arts (UAL) who hosted the event in London. Becky presented a showcase of past and present projects where UAL design researchers from the Textiles Futures Research Centre (TFRC) and at the London College of Fashion have worked with scientists, including the work of Suzanne Lee, Carole Collet and Helen Storey.

Current TED projects such as Trash-2-Cash and Mistra Future Fashion II continue this research direction by bringing together large multi-disciplinary teams to try to tackle the complex problems of materials cirularlity and sustainability. This has allowed TED to build a team of Post-doctoral Researchers – Dr Dawn Ellams and Dr Rosie Hornbuckle, and PhD students who are working in this field. Kate explained, the team’s experiences have resulted in some interesting insights about how designers and scientists can work together, such as ‘bringing our studio with us’, revealing hidden (technical) knowledge through visualisation, ‘bypassing the system’, using co-design workshops, and tacit materials knowledge or ‘design hunches’. 

A curiosity about commonalities and differences in the various approaches taken in these projects and partnerships was the driving force behind this event. A fantastic line-up of design and science ‘duos’ were asked to reflect on the following questions in their talks: 

  • How did the collaboration start? 
  • What were the main challenges? 
  • What helped you to communicate and share knowledge? 
  • What was ‘success’ for each of you? 

As well as some fantastic speakers it was great to have both scientists and designers in the audience, from both academia and industry, representing other EU projects such as Light Touch Matters and ECAP, and UK organisations such as WRAP and the AHRC – a truly informed audience. 

The day was organised so that the dynamic duo presentations in the morning generated the content for further round table discussions in the afternoon. 

Marjaana Tanttu and Dr Michael Hummel from Aalto University in Helsinki kicked off with a brilliant anecdote about ‘Dog Brushes’. In order to bridge the gap between fibre production and textile prototype they had to solve some very practical problems in an immediate way – separating the fibres using dog brushes and cutting staple fibres using paper scissors. This highlighted a problem that was shared in the room, that often lab-scale equipment is insufficient to produce prototype-ready materials for designers to use in their work. The need to work closely together and share spaces was also a key element in enabling a common language to be developed, and the use of summer schools to create an interdisciplinary ‘playground’ was a theme which resonated in subsequent talks. 

Prof Kay Politowicz (UAL) and Dr Hjalmar Granberg’s (RISE) talk began with how they started to work together, as an off-shoot of the Mistra Future Fashion project; they didn’t need to deliver something they simply recognised the mutual desire to make: you make something; I make something, let’s make something together. This highlights a theme that we have been exploring in Trash-2-Cash, that successful collaboration is as much about people getting on with one another, being inspired by each other - ‘clicking’ – as it is to do with systems, tools & methods. Hjalmar drew attention to the ‘demonstrator’ sample as a way of allowing others to see what is possible, while Kay reiterated a point made earlier about how research is intrinsically linked to teaching. Both researchers found that the complimentary skills and knowledge – described as ‘breadth and depth’ (referencing Tim Browns ‘T’ model), as well as identifying a shared problem, provided the basis for working together. 

Miriam Ribul (UAL) and Dr Hanna de la Motte’s (RISE) work was presented partially via Skype (a modern enabler of collaboration) and introduced Miriam’s past work for Mistra (where the collaboration was born) and her current Doctoral research. Miriam worked with Hanna as a ‘designer in residence’ which involved intense two week periods in the science lab. Miriam’s approach was playful and experimental: “she created so much cool stuff” Hanna explained; the serendipitous nature of design exploration within such a short space of time compared with the longer process of systematic scientific enquiry was a theme which was echoed by others throughout the day. The hardest thing was working out what they could do together, what was possible, how to start… while Miriam noted that one of the nicest things was being able to get a scientific explanation for what she had made the materials do through her experimentations. 

Dr Dawn Ellams (UAL) and Prof Robert Christie (Heriot-Watt University) explained how the challenging landscape of research assessment in the UK was part of the driving force behind creating ‘impact’ through research collaborations with designers. Top-down drivers were also identified later in the day as an opportunity for this type of research, as funders too increasingly understand the value of multidisciplinary research. Bob explained that one of the surprising things about Dawn was how she turned scientific concepts into inspiration for her work, while Dawn noted that she had to communicate her approach to the scientists in a way which gained their trust, learning about a specific part of the process whilst maintaining her unique standpoint as a designer, so as not to become a ‘bad scientist’. Bob repeatedly saw that through uninhibited exploration, his design students were able to make discoveries that scientific enquiry would be unlikely to predict: “I learnt not to discourage them”. 

Dr Adam Walker & Nick Ryan (Worn Again)represented an interesting contrast to the academic focus of the first four duos. Working in industry, the pair explained that while the first major challenge had been understanding one another (both explained that they had invested time to better understand the other’s language and discipline), the continuing problem has been communicating the value of a scientific principal to commercial stakeholders. Nick explained that a simple diagram had been the key to potential funders understanding why their technology would make money in a competitive environment, while Adam explained that the real advantage of working in this context was that the market was already established – market-pull is far more effective than technology-push. 

Dr Kate Goldsworthy hosted the panel discussion in the afternoon, drawing out some of the key questions from the morning’s talks. Some of the highlights were the ability of designers to ‘ask the right questions’, to challenge the scientists, and the need to work together in close proximity – do we need new spaces for design-science work? Creating an atmosphere for the freedom to explore, and reach serendipitous outcomes which may be more ‘innovative’ than conventional enquiry, how can we do this more in design and science? What can be achieved in science within one month and what can be achieved in design are very different, what can we expect from each discipline given the different timeframes? Investing in the other discipline while maintaining your own disciplinary identity also a featured in the discussion. 

Four key questions drawn from the days’ talks were: 

  1. What new (old) methods are useful?
  2. What are the opportunities? 
  3. How do we creatively communicate?
  4. What new spaces could we share? 

This is part of TED’s ongoing research into multi- and inter- disciplinary tools and methods in both the Trash-2-Cash and Mistra Future Fashion II projects. 

Watch this space for more events, discussions and research from us in this emerging area. 

Dr Rosie Hornbuckle 
Post-doctoral Researcher, Trash-2-Cash
Textiles Environment Design (TED) research group, UAL


Meet Michael


Cellulose Spaghetti is the latest Trash-2-Cash podcast, and the first to feature one of our science partners.

Dr Michael Hummel is part of the Aalto Chem team working on chemically dissolving waste to produce new, high quality textile fibres. The Ioncell-F process they’ve developed won last year’s Global Change Award, and Michael explains more about the process, and potential impact in the podcast.

In Michael’s words

Ioncell-F is a new method to create so-called ‘man-made cellulosic fibres’. These are meant to replace, or be an alternative to, cotton. There have been a few fibres on the market – most prominently Tencel and Viscose – but the problem with Viscose is that it’s connected to a lot of toxic chemicals, so the process is anything but green. The fibres are good (in the end), but the way to get to these fibres is not really in line with 21st century sustainability thinking.

So there’s a need for new processes. The Tencel process is one of them, but it is limited…the process that we have come up with is more versatile, and that is reflected in the trash that we can transform into high quality fibres.

The feedstock that we’re using to produce these fibres is cellulose…and it doesn’t really matter where it comes from – whether old cotton textiles, fresh wood pulp, or used cardboard boxes. As soon as we can isolate the cellulose, we can convert it.

(But what actually is cellulose?)

Cellulose is a polymer. Most people connect that term to synthetic polymers (or oil based products), but cellulose is a natural polymer - the most abundant natural polymer on earth in fact. In every biomass you’ll find cellulose – from a little in algae, to 90% or more in cotton.

It’s an amazing resource that hasn’t been valorized yet.

- - - - - - - 

Michael goes on to talk about how you spin a solution into a fibre (a hint is in the title of the podcast), how colours and dyes affect the recycling process and he tells us what an ionic liquid is. Michael also explains how collaborating with designers has helped to move what might have been a small lab based project onto the global stage, with the chance to make a real impact on the lifecycle of all textiles.

This is an insightful podcast that highlights why we need science, design and industry to come together to help solve real and urgent problems.

Listen to Michael’s story on either Soundcloud or iTunes…and don’t forget to subscribe for more.  


Meet Matilda


In our latest podcast, Prof Becky Earley catches up with Matilda Laitila - an R&D Project Manager at cool Finnish Children’s brand Reima.

For more than 70 years Reima has been supplying cosy clothing encouraging people to play outdoors, no matter the weather.

Through projects like Trash-2-Cash Reima intends to continue being the world’s leading expert in outdoor clothing for children. It’s also important for T2C to have industry partners who are at the ‘coal face’ of performance wear, to make sure fibres we develop in the project will be commercially viable in that sector.  

Founded in 1944, there was a shortage of raw materials, so the first Reima products (women’s work wear) were manufactured out of old army snowsuits. As performance is such an important part of outdoor fashion design, there’s always been a focus on material breakthroughs at Reima – Enstex material was introduced, then followed by Reimatec. Matilda’s job is to study new materials that will help them meet their goals of a waterproof, abrasion resistant and comfortable garment.

Reima also has pretty inspiring pillars of responsibility around sustainability, covering material and product development, the supply chain, and future recycling systems.

Matilda talks about all of this in the latest Trash-2-Cash podcast, available on iTunes and Soundcloud now. 


Trash-2-Cash research @ Circular Transitions


This autumn (23 – 24 November) marks the introduction of the international conference, focusing on textile design and the circular economy.


The conference coincides with the 6th T2C workshop and provides a unique opportunity for the first findings to be presented to a design audience. 

The contribution from Trash-2-Cash researchers demonstrates the diverse range of topics being investigated around the idea of ‘developing circular materials’.


Dr Rosie Hornbuckle, UAL; Helena Wedin, SP; Lucija Kobal, Tekstina; Martin Krečič, Tekstina; Pailak Mzikian, SOEX; Vittoria Troppenz, SOEX; Micol Costi, Material ConneXion
A sample box containing 112 textile samples (90 material types - 76 blends and 14 pure fibres) collected from 1 tonne of textile waste will be presented alongside key results from work package 4 of Trash-2-Cash. The exhibit shows the unique challenge of textile waste for textile recycler SOEX and also the great opportunity for regenerating cellulosic fibres from mixed cotton waste.  

Silent Shirt
Prof Rebecca Earley & Trash-2-Cash partners
Practising collaboration through making, Trash-2-Cash partners will be invited to co-create an upcycled shirt during workshop 6 which will then be exhibited within the Circular Transitions exhibition.


What Else do we know? Exploring the application of design knowledge and skills for the circular economy beyond materials selection and design for production
Dr Rosie Hornbuckle (University of the Arts, London)

Can Design-Driven Material Innovation also drive circularity?
Marjaana Tanttu, Dr Cindy Kohtala & Prof. Kirsi Niinimäki(Aalto Arts)      

Colours in Circular Economy
Dr Elina Ilén, Prof Herbert Sixta, Dr Michael Hummel, Prof. Kirsi Niinimäki (Aalto Arts & Aalto Chem)

Whole Circles: design research leadership for the circular economy
Prof Rebecca Earley (University of the Arts London)


Sticky and Stranded in Copenhagen


Reporting from Workshop 05:


Copenhagen was strangely sultry for mid-September. Each morning as we walked/metro-ed/uber-ed our way to Copenhagen Business School the sun was warmly uplifting. But later it became uncomfortably sticky until the cool evenings swept in - this unseasonal weather pattern set the tone for our latest meeting... 

We all arrived with broad smiles and genuine embraces - the result of a year’s familiarity with each other. Although we anticipated there'd be difficult questions to answer over the two-day workshop, the atmosphere was warm and optimistic (something Skype calls rarely achieve).

In the morning there were planned talks and activities, and a sharing of knowledge about T2C materials on a tour of R&D islands. In the heat of the afternoon, we started to explore our design islands.

Navigating from materials R&D to new design concepts was tricky at first, it took a while for people to adjust to the unfamiliarity of design applications – and the journey could have been smoother.

At the end of Day 1 it wasn’t clear if we had achieved everything we had intended; had the two areas of materials knowledge from science and design cross-pollinated or simply passed each other by? And some difficult questions about project direction remained unresolved.

By contrast Day 2 was a dramatic voyage. We raised project direction issues in open and frank discussions, and there was uncomfortable uncertainty as partners discussed their contribution to solving the problems. Through some brilliant tools and mediation from our lead facilitator from Material ConneXion and the generous collaboration of all of the partners, indecision turned into commitments, and discomfort to excited optimism. 

As we fed back the previous day’s Design and R&D Island work to the whole group, we saw the project pulling together in a synchronicity that hadn’t existed before. The project materials lined up with the manufacturing capabilities and we could all see the kinds of products they could become.

The joy after a truly intense two days was palpable: “This was the best workshop yet”. Even if at times it felt like we might at any moment become unstuck, the hard work of communication and collaboration definitely paid off.

My big takeaway from Copenhagen: “we need uncomfortable moments to progress” 

And the result? By workshop 06 in London we will have our first design concepts and our first Trash-2-Cash material samples. 

Dr Rosie Hornbuckle, UAL