Telakoulu: Improving textile sorting competence – textile sorter training

The pilot included the following entities: training, sorting and integration into teaching. It was implemented in 2017–2018 with financial support from the Ministry of the Environment.

Implemented by:

Pääkaupunkiseudun Kierrätyskeskus Oy, Coordinator

Fida International ry

Turun seudun TST ry / Texvex shop

Pirkanmaan kierrätys ja työtoiminta ry / Nextiili shop

Turku University of Applied Sciences


Sorting pilots were conducted in order to test the reliability of manual sorting of textiles. All participant organizations conducted three one-day sorting tests. The materials divided into different categories in the various sorting pilots based on their garment labels or the feel of materials were verified by the Lahti University of Applied Sciences. The total quantity of textiles sorted in the pilots was 9,868 kg, of which approximately 300 samples were collected and sent for verification. Infrared spectroscopy was used to identify materials.

Based on the results of the pilots, manual sorting should focus on textiles to be reused, since this will maximize profit from the textiles and natural resource savings. An experienced and/or trained sorter can identify saleable products and valuable vintage items from among the textile mass, which is something a machine is not capable of. On the other hand, identifying different materials in manual sorting is slow and, in part, unreliable.


The Telakoulu training included building and testing a prototype for web-based training of textile sorters. In the future, sorters’ competence and sorting outcome of must be uniform throughout the country. This will ensure that the valuable reusable portion of the separately collected textiles can be recovered.

As the training also includes information on the environmental impacts of textiles and the many benefits provided by reuse, sorting will be more meaningful and the sorters’ motivation will increase.

A unique feature of the training pilot is that it was carried out and tested jointly by four sorting operators and is aligned with the actual daily needs in sorting, while taking different learner types into consideration. The training pilot was provided twice. User feedback from the first pilot was applied to develop the training.