RGE - NTU Sustainable Textile Research Centre

Today, about 90 million tonnes of textile waste are being generated and disposed of annually, but only less than 1% of it is being upcycled. With the growing global fashion industry, which is known to be the second most polluting industry in the world, the amount of textile waste is expected to grow to over 134 million tonnes by 2030. 

RGE, the world’s largest viscose producer, and NTU Singapore,  are partnering on innovation in textile recycling technology to address this global problem. 

The RGE-NTU Sustainable Textile Research Centre (RGE-NTU SusTex) is a collaborative partnership that builds upon industrial demand for a higher level of sustainability and NTU’s strong engineering capability in materials science including environmental chemistry and materials. Aligned with the Singapore Green Plan 2030 and Zero-Waste Vision, RGE–NTU SusTex is determined to relook at the chemistry of often complex textile materials and to engineer better sustainability and circularity into the textile value chain. 

A key anticipated outcome from the collaboration is the establishment of a low-carbon and green urban-fit pilot textile recycling plant  in Singapore that is capable of converting local textile waste into new raw materials to produce new quality garments. This initiative is part of RGE’s US$200 million commitment on next-generation textile fibre innovation and technology.


Research Focus

Thrust 1:
Clean & Efficient Mixed Fibre Separation

While textile recycling technologies have advanced in recent years, several gaps remain. For instance, current textile chemical recycling technologies require strong solvents which can potentially pose hazards to human health and the environment.  RGE-NTU SusTex is developing novel cost-effective and ‘green’ solvents for textile recycling. 

Principal Investigator: Prof. HU Xiao (Matthew) – Co-Director of SusTex

Thrust 2:
Automated Front-End Textile Waste Sorting

Sorting textile waste into similar compositions is a critical step in textile upcycling. Though a critical enabler, most sorting is done manually – a laborious process. RGE-NTU SusTex explores a combination of advanced spectroscopic techniques and machine learning capabilities to enable automated textile waste sorting based on fibre composition.

Principal Investigator: A/P CHEW Jia Wei

Thrust 3:
Alternative Use for By-Products of Textile Recycling

Textile recycling should not be done for recycling sake but to advance circularity and minimise waste. In synergy with the other research thrusts, we seek to find alternative uses for by-products (e.g. polyester fibres) from textile recycling that cannot be used to create new cellulosic fibres. 

Principal Investigator: Dr LIANG Yen Nan

Thrust 4:
Eco-Friendly Dye Removal Process and Natural Dyes Development

The presence of synthetic dyes and other additives impede the recycling and recovery of natural and cellulosic fibres. The common process of bleaching to remove these additives may emit secondary pollutants detrimental to the environment. In this thrust, RGE-NTU SusTex looks to leverage green chemistries to strip dyes on textile waste, and develop natural dye technologies. 

Principal Investigator:  A/P Dalton TAY Chor Yong

Contact Us

Prof. Hu Xiao (Matthew), Centre Director (email: [email protected])
Mr. Kevin Kho, Centre Manager (email: [email protected])