(Bloomberg) At the end of the movie Back to the Future, mad scientist Emmett “Doc” Brown reappears with his time-traveling DeLorean, newly powered by garbage thanks to a fictional recycling reactor from the future called Mr. Fusion. A company in Japan is building its own Mr. Fusion. It’s even bought a replica of the iconic car to promote it.
Recycler Jeplan is working to extract cotton fiber from used apparel and convert it to fuel. Jeplan says 1 ton of junked clothing can generate about 700 liters of ethanol, sparing land and water resources that could be used to grow food. The company says it’s also developed a way to recycle polyester. That compound is blended into many fabrics to reduce costs, improve durability, and make outfits wrinkle-resistant. It’s used in about 60 percent of the clothing produced worldwide each year, according to Jeplan, and can be a valuable resource when broken down and reused in new clothing.