An eco-friendly technology that effectively sanitises clothing could help protect the environment by dramatically slashing waste, researchers believe. The fashion industry is set to be revolutionised by this innovative sanitisation technology.

The patented technology – created by University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and Advanced Clothing Solutions (ACS) – was initially developed to disrupt ‘fast fashion’, through offering retailers and brands an alternative, environmentally friendly solution for sanitising used clothing and accessories.

Developing Revolutionary Technology

Dr Mohammed Yaseen, of UWS’s School of Computing, Engineering and Physical Sciences, said: “This revolutionary technology has real potential to disrupt the fashion and textile industry and offers huge environmental benefits, which could see a significant reduction in landfill waste from clothing.”

After rigorous trials at ACS’s state-of-the-art, automated fashion fulfilment facility on the outskirts of Glasgow, the system has been shown to effectively kill a vast range of germs, fungi and bacteria – including S. aureus and E. coli – as well as viruses such as coronavirus on clothing and fashion accessories. It is now being successfully trialled on PPE, making it safe to reuse, which could significantly reduce environmental waste from PPE products also.

Anthony Burns, Chief Operating Officer of ACS, said: “At ACS, we are known for helping retailers to grow their sustainable and circular fashion ambitions by providing a complete rental and resale service, managing the entire process from our purpose-built facility. However, introducing circularity and reuse of clothing has presented an interesting but not insurmountable environmental opportunity.

“Every piece of clothing presents a sustainability and recycling challenge. With sanitisation technology, we hope to significantly prolong the life of garments. We are delighted to have put our partnership with UWS to good use to help develop revolutionary eco-friendly sanitisation technology that can drastically reduce landfill waste from clothing, textiles, and even PPE products.”

Dr Yaseen added: “The eco-friendly solution uses ozone gas to decontaminate fabrics, which subsequently helps to reduce the use of water and avoid negative environmental impacts from detergent use.

“The success of the project is undoubtedly due to the strong partnership between UWS and ACS, initiated through Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) programme. Our KTP Associate, Dr Emmanuel Epelle, has been central to the project’s success.”

In addition, Scottish Enterprise have agreed to financially support the establishment of the Sanitisation Chamber designed by UWS and installed at ACS. Malcolm Craig from Scottish Enterprise stated,” It’s inspiring providing support to such an innovative technology. This transformational collaboration between UWS and ACS will help disrupt the fashion industry for the better.

Fashion Industry Revolutionised by Sanitisation Technology

Fashion Industry Revolutionised by Sanitisation Technology
Left to Right – Dr Emanuel Epelle, COO of ACS Anthony Burns and Dr Mohammed Yassen.

Innovative Implementation

Glasgow-based ACS prolong the life of used or damaged garments for some of the country’s biggest brands, through their sustainable textile repair, refurbishment and cleaning service.

Forty percent of clothing purchased online is returned, with less than half of it being resold and the remainder ending up at landfill sites or being burned. Through extending the lifetime of a garment by three months, its carbon footprint is reduced by 10% and a pre-owned purchase, or a rented garment, saves 1kg in waste, 3,040 litres of water, and 22kg CO2. ACS clean around 45,000 garments each week.

The revolutionary technology, which is the result of a knowledge exchange project, through UWS’s KTP programme, could help to drastically reduce landfill waste from clothing, textiles, and PPE products – offering far-reaching environmental benefits.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships are a flagship programme from Innovate UK and form a collaboration between a business, an academic institution, and a graduate. The graduate is employed by the academic institution as a ‘KTP Associate’ who works full-time at the business involved, under the guidance of an expert academic team. This three-way partnership forges strong ties between industry and academia and helps to deliver solutions to real-world problems.