An eco-friendly technology that effectively sanitises clothing could help protect the environment by dramatically slashing waste, researchers believe.

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.

Scottish Enterprise will financially support the project, which will bolster ambitions through supporting the development of a state-of the-art ‘sanitisation chamber’ – designed by researchers at UWS. The chamber will be installed at ACS’s automated fashion fulfilment facility on the outskirts of Glasgow.

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 the system has been shown to effectively kill a vast range of germs and viruses, such as E. coli, S. aureus and coronavirus, which can remain 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.

Anthony Burns, Chief Operating Officer of ACS Clothing, 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 PPE has presented an interesting but not insurmountable environmental opportunity.


Photo: (left to right) Dr Emmanuel Epelle UWS, Anthony Burns COO of ACS, and Dr Mohammed Yaseen UWS, pictured with the ozone sterilisation cabinet
Photo Credit: Elaine Livingstone / UWS

“Every piece of PPE presents a sustainability and recycling challenge. Many items were initially deemed single-use because knowledge of sterilising these items wasn’t available. With sterilisation technology, we hope to reverse much of this single-use problem. We are delighted to have put our partnership with UWS to good use to help develop revolutionary eco-friendly sterilisation technology that can drastically reduce landfill waste from clothing, textiles, and 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.”

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.


Photo: (left to right) UWS project team, Dr Mohammed Yaseen, Dr Mostafa Rateb, Dr Emanuel Epelle, Dr Luc Rolland with Anthony Burns COO of ACS
Photo Credit: Elaine Livingstone / UWS

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