New material makes clothing recycling possible!

As apparel brands experiment with textile recycling models, the emergence of new fabrics built around clothing manufacturing could help speed up this progress. Examples of recent novelty in this field include Econyl, X2 Plus, Returnity and SaXcell. Depending on the idea of regeneration from the outset, these fibre based textiles are mainly crafted from waste materials and assert to be recyclable or reusable, making them suited for many life cycles.

Econyl is a kind of nylon made wholly from waste streams that include abandoned fishing nets and carpets. It’s billed as a sustainable alternative to Nylon 6, which is usually sourced from caprolactam a derivative of oil. Swimwear brands were the first to invest in the use of Econyl fibres as the most of their merchandise are made from nylon. Brands like Koru Swimwear and Adidas may follow their lead. Besides swimwear, Econyl is suited for the make of sportswear, lingerie and outdoor clothing.

“Returnity” is a 100 recyclable polyester which is replacing not only conventional polyester, but cotton and wool based fabrics too. As indicated by Dutch aWEARness, which owns the European license for the product, Returnity fabrics decrease CO2 affect by 73%, waste management by 90% and water handling by 95% in comparison to cotton. Returnity is primarily used in the workwear market, where recycling of corporate garments is simpler to arrange. And it may be possible to widen its appeal. Extension to the fashion market is possible, in specific in regions where garments are polyester based, like sportswear, outdoor wear and jackets. H&M and Marks & Spencer M&S in that order are both keeping a watchful eye on such actions. H&M’s environmental sustainability coordinator Carola Tembe said the company’s lasting goal is to find a solution for reusing and recycling all textile fibres and to use yarns made out of collected textiles in its merchandise. There are lots of different great projects and research going on in this field, and we aim to find a scalable solution for textile to textile recycling with an result equal, or hopefully better, than virgin fibres soon, she said. H&M has already started to use pre and post consumer recycled textile waste in its merchandise, but there are difficulties. For example, for recycled cotton, the highest amount of mechanically recycled post consumer fibre that can be used is 20% without compromising the quality.

In the mechanical recycling procedure, the textile fibres are regenerated in a way that makes the textile fibres shorter and with lower quality than virgin fibre. They have to be mixed with pure fibres to reach quality standards. Building greater durability into fabrics that may be used again and again could pave the way for the closed loop clothing leasable fibres. This could let fabric suppliers or textile manufacturers to effectively keep ownership of a garment’s raw materials. So far sounds great, as clothing material is one of the largest product groups on garbage dumps.