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Member of the European Parliament Reinhard Bütikofer visits TITK

The prominent Green Party politician discussed with TITK Director Benjamin Redlingshöfer the framework conditions for business-oriented research and the challenges of a textile circular economy.

European policy does not only take place in Brussels and Strasbourg, but just also on the ground in the regions. Reinhard Bütikofer has been a member of the European Parliament since 2009 and has chosen Thuringia as his regional focus: Here, the former federal chairman of Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen and long-time chairman of the European Green Party is still a member of the Erfurt district association and also runs an office in the Thuringian state capital. On Friday afternoon, his route took him to the Thuringian Institute for Textile and Plastics Research (TITK) in Rudolstadt.

In a discussion with Managing Director Benjamin Redlingshöfer, Bütikofer was given an explanation of how the TITK Group is set up and how the business model of non-grant-funded business-oriented research, which is successful above all in Central Germany, works. The TITK director then addressed a major topic "which also opens a window for investment decisions": the EU's textile take-back regulation from 2025. "This will greatly advance the establishment of a fully sustainable textile industry," Redlingshöfer emphasized.

For example, he said, the recycling of mixed textiles is already the key challenge facing the textile industry. In the next five to ten years, he said, an enormous potential for investment, turnover and manpower will open up here across the entire textile chain. The TITK is well prepared for these upcoming challenges: The almost 90 years of cellulose expertise at the Schwarza site will come into its own here, the institute director is certain.

Reinhard Bütikofer gained a concrete insight into the research and development work of the TITK in the production and functionalization of regenerated cellulose fibers in the Küttner pilot plant. Philipp Köhler, deputy head of the Native Polymers and Chemical Research Department, explained to him how the particularly sustainable lyocell fibers are produced. Afterwards, the MEP also got to know the start-up Circ DE, which deals with the recycling of textiles into new recyclable fibers. Just the day before, Circ DE had successfully mastered the final pitch round of the Thuringian technology competition "Get started 2gether" and is now cooperating with TITK - as are three other new start-up teams.

MEP Reinhard Bütikofer (Greens) visited the TITK in Rudolstadt on March 31, 2023, here with institute director Benjamin Redlingshöfer. (Photo: TITK/Steffen Beikirch)
At the working meeting on business-oriented research in general and the textile circular economy in particular. (Photo: TITK/Steffen Beikirch
Philipp Köhler (r.), deputy head of the Native Polymers and Chemical Research Department, explains lyocell spinning. (Photo: TITK/Steffen Beikirch)
Dr. Julie Willoughby (r.) from the start-up Circ DE exchanging ideas with Member of Parliament Reinhard Bütikofer and TITK Director Benjamin Redlingshöfer (l.). (Photo: TITK/Steffen Beikirch)