MultiLAB, the innovative platform aimed at green solution

The MultiLAB, an offshoot of Centrocot, is a multi-sector experimental laboratory thaty supports companies aiming at facing new innovation challenges linked to sustainability and the circular economy.
A leading provider of services, tests and certification for the textile industry, Centrocot SpA, was founded on October 7th, 1987 in Busto Arsizio, Varese, Italy, as a mean to developing the sector. Today, its importance can be seen from its numbers: 2,132 listed laboratory tests, 774 ACCREDIA accredited tests – the single national body appointed by the Italian government to certify the competence and independence of certification bodies -, more than 1,600 OEKO-TEX® Certificates released and more than 1,500 Certificates on protective devices. Great attention has always been paid to research and innovation, and the area dedicated to it has recently been enlarged in the Malpensafiere exhibition area. Here the MultiLAB with its equipment was installed in an area of over 1000 sqm. The multi-sector experimental laboratory supports companies aiming at facing new innovation challenges linked to sustainability and the circular economy. The activity focus on: innovative materials for the development of new eco-sustainable and bio-degradable materials, new production processes for the development of new process methods for sustainability, new production processes for the research, development and experimentation of new recycling products and applications. Claudio Brugnoni, MultiLAB Manager at Centrocot, illustrated the activities of the research and innovation area to us.
What are the main activities carried out by researchers at MultiLAB?
“The activities of the Multi-Lab focus on the recovery, reuse and recycling of pre- and post-consumer waste materials through different technologies: Mechanical recycling: suitable for different fibrous compositions (pure and mixed) and type of product (piece, finished product). The processing machines we have are a fraying machine and a fiber-opening card for processing textiles for the subsequent phases, and a shredder for padding materials such as expanded foams. Thermo-mechanical recycling: suitable for thermoplastic synthetic fibers (prepared by preliminary mechanical process) or thermoplastic materials more generally. The equipment available is: twin-screw, single-screw and melt spinning extruders (lab scale) for processing materials, grinding mill and dehumidifier for preparing materials. Advanced sorting system: two tools for the identification of textile composition via NIR spectroscopy coupled to chemometrics, with associated development of models for the determination of surface chemical components (finishing treatments, contamination). Measurement of biodegradability: through a 12-channel respirometer it is possible to carry out an evaluation of the biodegradation capacity of a material in a specific environmental compartment (composting conditions, in sea water or fresh water). We take advantage of 3D printers to develop proof-of-concept prototype manufacturing using filament fusion technology.”
Innovation today is often connected with digitalization.What contributions is MultiLAB making to companies in the sector aiming at growing in this field?
To help companies develop waste recovery activities, the M3P digital platform, an acronym for Material Match Making Platform (, was initially developed as part of the Life project. The M3P platform is a tool for companies that want to valorize their production waste: it aims at creating matches between production waste, unsold items or waste and the recycling technologies available on the market, also taking into consideration the current regulations and possible certifications applicable in the field of circular economy. It therefore consists of a database of materials, technologies, skills and services that allows us to respond to every creative need and give a second life to industrial scraps and waste. This platform aims to be a collector between supply and demand in the field of circular economy and industrial symbiosis, to provide services to SMEs in this field and to disseminate innovative technologies offered by companies, project results, start-ups.”
Can this platform only be used by companies in the textile and leather sector?
“The platform is multi-sectoral, and covers various sectors such as textiles, leather, plastic materials and various types of packaging. Concretely, the M3P platform is addressed to every company and through it it is possible to carry out keyword searches to verify materials similar to one’s own, create a portfolio of one’s own waste and/or materials to offer or search for, and also to obtain, for each waste or material inserted, a list of suitable recycling technologies, a list of services needed to achieve a complete recycling process, and a list of certifications needed for waste or recycled material.”
Are there already active companies on the platform?
“The database is starting to be crowded. An example of a successful case is included within the Digiprime project, that aims at promoting the circular economy between the automotive and textile sectors through the integration of the M3P platform and a platform developed specifically for the project. Considering that in 2022, 79.4 million cars were produced worldwide, and that in each car it is estimated that there are around 35 kg of fabrics, the quantity of textile material to be recycled when a car is scrapped is considerable. In particular, as a pilot case we focused on seat belts, which weight approximately 1.5 kg per car out of the 35kg, so we speak of about 1650 tons of seat belts to be disposed of every year. By entering the characteristics of the material in question, the platform is able to provide a set of technologies for processing waste material. Among the technologies that the platform offers is processing through thermo-mechanical recycling; subsequently, once the plastic granule has been obtained, it is possible to process it by filament extrusion (melt-spinning) to form a polyester thread, ready to return to the textile sector. Another example of a successful case in which the M3P platform has given positive feedback for the recycling of materials, and included within the React project, concerns the recycling of acrylic fabrics used for outdoor furniture, and in particular the sunshade curtains. As a matter of fact, every year around 11 thousand tons of acrylic fabrics are produced, which in Europe alone form around 2.5 million awnings that are installed. All this corresponds to a quantity of approximately 7700 tons/year of fabrics sent to landfill. However, it has been proven that such textiles are recyclable: through the development of a method to remove undesirable substances, such as water-repellent surface treatments, melamine and acrylic resins and anti-mold agents, an ecological process has been proposed to improve recycling, increase sustainability and reduce risks to the environment and health. A new collection of recycled acrylic fabrics has thus been developed, ready to take on a new life as sunshades, having demonstrated the possibility of significantly reducing the risk of retaining dangerous substances in recycled materials. In this way, the M3P platform promotes the possibility of expanding new market opportunities for the textile and recycled sectors, keeping up with the European regulations that will be proposed over the years to deal with the disposal of textile waste.”
Finally, what is your strength, the quality that sets you apart?
“The MultiLAB is an offshoot of Centrocot and our constant search for innovation and development is the basis of our work. Centrocot has never been content to stay up-to-date with the times, it has always tried to anticipate them and create new opportunities, and this has enabled it to stand out in the market and offer its customers solutions of quality and value that are recognized institutionally and internationally. Indeed, Centrocot itself is an example of how investment is the key to success and competitiveness.”