According to Spain's Universidad Politécnica de Madrid, approximately 5.8 million tons (5.26 million tonnes) of textile waste are generated in the European Union every year. About a quarter if it is recycled, while the rest is simply placed in landfills or incinerated. That's why scientists from the university are exploring a new use for the waste – they're turning it into interior wall panels.
The panels incorporate fibers derived from thread remnants and waste fabric, generated mainly in the production of clothing. These materials require no pretreatment, apart from being finely shredded.
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Once they've been reduced to fibers, natural hydraulic lime is used as a binder to hold those fibers together in the form of a panel. Lime is reportedly less flammable than other more commonly-used chemical binders, plus it emits less toxic gases.
The low-density panels themselves are likewise said to weigh less than their traditional counterparts, while offering superior thermal and acoustic performance. Additionally, their production process is claimed to be more energy-efficient.