Support initiative “Textile Cycles”

Cross-company solutions for textile cycles

The funding initiative “Cross-company solutions for textile cycles” will be continued until March 2023: It is aimed in particular at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Cooperation projects between SMEs and research institutions are expressly encouraged. Project outlines can be submitted here up to and including March 31, 2023.

The “Textile Cycles” funding initiative is part of the DBU’s #DBUcirconomy funding priority.

The careful and efficient use of resources is a core task for present and future generations. The textile industry in Germany is also confronted with this challenge. Whether for the home or apparel sector, in the construction sector or in vehicle manufacturing, the current textile economy functions predominantly in a linear fashion. What is needed, therefore, is an alternative to the conventional linear “take – make – waste” approach, which has numerous negative environmental and social impacts. Instead of extracting valuable and finite raw materials, manufacturing products from them, and disposing of them as waste at the end of their use, what is needed is closed-loop recycling that takes into account all stages of a product’s life cycle and thinks about subsequent recycling as early as the design stage (design for recycling). The Circular Economy is being discussed as one such comprehensive solution.

The so-called RESOLVE approach (acatech 2019) identifies six sub-aspects of the Circular Economy: REgenerate(use renewable resources), Share(expand user group), Optimize(reduce waste, increase energy/material efficiency), Loop(recycle), Virtualize(replace through digitalization/virtualization), and Exchange(replace with resource-saving alternatives). In addition to these approaches, which are primarily based in the B2B sector, consumer behavior plays a central role in achieving the goal of a Circular Economy.

The transformation of existing linear into circular textile value-added systems offers start-ups and established companies opportunities for the further development of their business models, in addition to significant environmental relief potential. Obstacles are often organizational as well as technical and legal. The existing reciprocal relationships between suppliers, producers, traders, reprocessors, logisticians and users often pose obstacles to closed-loop recycling. In addition, there is often a lack of transparent and target group-relevant information on offers on the one hand and on requirements and criteria on the demand side. Important success factors for the development of circular loops are a holistic view, digital solutions (e.g., platforms or marketplaces), and suitable business models that are mostly new for the established companies. A crucial factor is the establishment of trusting cooperation between actors in the value chain at the decision-making level.

The aim of this funding measure is to close inter-company resource-efficient product, material and substance cycles through innovative technical and, at the same time, economically feasible solution approaches as well as through novel education and qualification formats. Value networks and cascade systems for products, components and materials are to be enabled. In particular, innovative, model projects that can be transferred to practice in a timely manner and are characterized by one or more of the following features, among others, are eligible for funding:

  1. Establishment of cross-company cooperations in which, for example.
    • end-of-life products are returned and reused (e.g. reverse logistics),
    • Requirements for recyclable and recyclable design to be established and used across companies,
    • the service life of products is extended (Cleaning/Repair/Refurbish/Re-Use),
    • innovative, practical sharing, deposit and leasing concepts can be realized,
    • energy and material efficiency in value-added cycles is increased,
    • Composite materials are replaced by mono-materials,
    • recycling approaches such as separating layers for multi-materials are developed, thus enabling cycles,
    • recyclable material innovations are developed, as well as
    • (by- and waste) products and substances of one company are used as input material for another company.
  2. Innovative business models to overcome barriers to high-quality textile recycling.
  3. Provision and use of product and material information, e.g. by means of digital platforms, product/material passports, labeling, fingerprinting, inter-company standards for recycled products.
  4. IT-based solutions for the implementation of business models such as sharing concepts or collaboration platforms.
  5. Novel educational and communication concepts in the field of vocational education (career orientation, initial, further and continuing training) as well as in the field of school and out-of-school sustainability education, testing and using new, digital media, if possible involving partner institutions in practice and taking into account the qualification of teachers.
  6. Establish new and innovatively expand existing (education/skills) networks to implement circular approaches.
  7. Innovative recycling and sorting processes for returning textile products to the cycle in terms of materials and raw materials.
  8. Innovative material blend removal technologies and processing methods.
  9. Establish new circular textile logistics, such as take-back concepts, deposit systems, digital material tracking systems, digital labeling and smart collection containers.

The submission procedure for projects under the “Circular Economy funding initiative” is primarily open to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and research institutions. Cooperation projects between SMEs and research institutions are expressly desired; the participation of other actors (e.g. large companies) is possible, as is the involvement of international supply chain partners. The current version of the DBU funding guidelines applies. Click here to apply.

Deadline for submission of project outlines is March 31, 2023. Please mark the project outline for this funding initiative with “FI TEX” in the title to ensure correct electronic assignment.

Within the framework of the DBU doctoral scholarship program scholarship applications can be submitted on the topic complex. Deadlines for submitting scholarship applications are January 15 and June 15 (see ndien_promotion).

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions about the RFP.

Exemplary projects of the funding initiative


Dr. Volker Berding
DBU: Umweltforschung: Ressourcenmanagement
+49 541 9633-310
Dr. Melanie Kröger
DBU: Umweltforschung: ZirkulÀre Wirtschaft und Bioökonomie
+49 541 9633-322
Dr. Thomas Pyhel
DBU: Umweltkommunikation und KulturgĂŒterschutz, Internationale Förderung: Informelle Bildung und Medien
+49 541 9633-432
Dr. Michael Schwake
DBU: Umwelttechnik: Umwelt- und gesundheitsfreundliche Verfahren und Produkte
+49 541 9633-212