North Carolina Textile Innovation and Sustainability


Key Technology Area

Circular Economy


Bear Fiber
Carolina Textile District
Gaston Textile Technology Center
Manufacturing Solutions Center
Material Return
North Carolina State University, Wilson College of Textiles
RTI International
The Industrial Commons
Western Piedmont Community College

The Industrial Commons

The NSF Textile Innovation and Sustainability Engine aims to drive economic growth, enhance global competitiveness, and address climate change by establishing a sustainable textile circular economy. Partnering organizations collaborate to tackle challenges identified in a 2021 NIST report, such as the low rate of textile recycling in the U.S. The initiative focuses on recycling, repurposing, and reusing waste to create sought-after products, minimizing environmental impact. With a vision rooted in diversity, equity, and workforce development, the Engine targets the textile sector's transition to a circular economy, aligning with growing consumer demand for sustainable products. The initiative holds the potential to create jobs, reduce environmental impact, and contribute to economic resilience.

The NSF Textile Innovation and Sustainability Engine is a collaborative effort aiming to revolutionize the textile industry and address climate change challenges. The initiative focuses on establishing a sustainable and regenerative textile circular economy, addressing low recycling rates. Collaborative partners are developing innovative solutions to recycle, repurpose, and reuse textile waste, creating in demand products. This approach contrasts with traditional practices of sourcing inputs globally and discarding waste, contributing to environmental degradation. The initiative emphasizes the circular economy, where waste becomes raw material, extending product life cycles and reducing environmental impact.

The textile sector's impact on the environment and the economy is significant, with global apparel consumption estimated at $1.8 trillion, constituting 2.3% of global GDP. The Engine's vision involves leveraging industrial expertise, restructuring supply chains, and commercializing innovations to capitalize on circular economy principles. Besides environmental benefits, the circular economy approach is seen as a means to create jobs and foster sustainable growth. The partners involved have demonstrated success in developing sustainable production systems, and the proposed Engine aims to scale these efforts, contributing to economic resilience and sustainability in North Carolina and the surrounding region's textile sector.