Turning Worn-Out Cotton into High-Quality Fibers

This initiative is turning old, worn-out cotton clothing into new fi bers for reuse in the textile industry by using a cellulose dissolution technique.

Reproducing old cotton clothing into new material has proven to be very challenging as the worn-out fibers are too short to be spun into new quality thread. But the cellulose dissolution technique from the Relooping Fashion Initiative
allows for virtually unlimited recycling of cotton without the addition of any harmful chemicals or new material. The process does not require use of sulfur, thereby avoiding environmental and occupational health challenges in the
production of new textiles.
According to the company, the circular technique has proven to reproduce fibers for new textile production with an improved quality, closing the loop and maintaining the value of cotton throughout the value chain. By the end of 2016, a pilot project is expected to produce the first commercially available clothing lines made with 100% recycled fibers.

Relevance of solution

The widespread decomposition of clothes in landfills releases methane and increases the risk of dyes and other chemicals leaching into the environment. The Relooping Fashion Initiative’s circular approach to recycling cotton fibers reduces textile waste and provides a valuable source of raw material for new clothing materials.

Triple Bottom Line

Environmental

Cellulose dissolution reduces water usage by 70% and energy consumption by 50%, according to the company.

Social

The approach enables the production of garments without the release of harmful chemicals.

Economic

By re-purposing textiles that would otherwise have ended up in landfills, the initiative achieves cost savings in raw materials.