Skip to Content

A Japanese Recycling Company Converts Cotton Fibers From Used Clothing Into Fuel

A Japanese recycling company is to remove cotton fibers from used clothing and convert them into fuel. As the company claims, one tonne of used clothing can produce about 700 liters of ethanol, leaving the soil and water resources to be used for food production. He also says he has found the way to recycle polyester.

This chemical compound enters many fabrics in order to reduce costs, improve durability, and do not wrinkle the fabrics to be produced. It is used in approximately 60% of the garments produced worldwide every year, according to the company, and can be a valuable resource when it is analyzed for re-use in new clothes.

It is considered as one of the new way biofuel companies that aim to make people think in a brand new way. And they kind of achieved that goal.

Wash Waste

The recycling of plastic, paper, and metal is common, but many of the clothes produced each year end up in landfills and incineration. “Only 10% of the garments are recycled, including second-hand ones,” the co-founder and CEO of the company said.

Together with his team, he works on a technique that pulls the polyester fibers out of the clothes through multiple cycles of distillation and evaporation. The process produces half the amount of carbon dioxide that would be produced if they made the material from scratch. The hard way is to make polyester of high purity and, as the CEO of the company says, no one does it because it is very difficult.

The CEO founded the company in 2007 with a textile seller. The company collaborated with the University of Osaka to develop cotton recycling technology.

It started its commercial operations in 2010, providing advice to customers such as Mitsubishi and NTT Docomo. Jeplan has raised nearly $13 million from its inception, and among its investors, Docomo and venture capital firm Jafco.

In order to achieve its goals, the company is building a factory on Kyushu Island, which is expected to operate in the summer and will manage 2,000 tons of clothing a year.

The polyester is currently stored until the plant is opened.


In order to advertise his company’s recycling effort, the CEO ordered an exact copy of the film’s car, and to do so he got a special license from Universal Pictures that exploited the rights. He did not reveal what he paid for the license, but only to transport the model to Japan cost him 5 million yen or $ 44,000. DeLoreane’s mission is to go to all Japan shopping malls and attract people who will give used clothing as a donation to the company.

At the same time, the CEO plans to recruit many manufacturers of clothes to collect used

Clothing and eventually sell recycled materials to manufacturers.

Jeplan is also in talks with many sports brands and soccer teams around the world on similar initiatives. Sports uniforms are also high in polyester.

“People can not respond easily if you appeal to their environmental feelings, but they will more easily participate in something if they find it entertaining. By making various events, we are trying to change the culture of the world for recycling.”