While the term ‘recycled’ has flourished in collections these past few years, it is important to note that the vast majority of the recycled materials are synthetic, derived from the recycling of PET bottles.
Less than 1% of materials are recycled from textile to textile. Today, the challenge is to take advantage of colossal pre- and post-consumer mass to develop the recycled fabrics of tomorrow.
The answer lies partly in the field of chemical recycling, allowing for the revalorization of cellulose-containing resources into new artificial materials, which depends for the moment on wood pulp. Virtuous perspectives for eco-responsible fluidity!
These new technologies offer an immense opportunity, since the recycling of 25% of cotton and 25% of cellulose materials currently in circulation would make it possible to replace all the wood currently used, according to Canopy.
As a result of this promising finding, pilot projects have expanded and are now delivering solutions to the market on a large scale.
Lenzing’s Refibra™, initially developed in 2017 with 20% recycled cotton, now uses 30% recycled cotton (5% post-consumer, and 25% pre-consumer) combined with 70% wood pulp in a lyocell process reusing 99% of solvents.
Among new players, Renewcell is seeing nice expansion for Circulose™. The Swedish pilot plant powered entirely by renewable energy now produces 7,000 tons of cellulosic pulp, entirely from textile recycling. Thiscircular cellulose paves the way for the reuse of polyester-cotton mixes, with a technology that is currently able to extract the polyester, when present in minimal percentage, to retain only the cellulose from the cotton. The pulp obtained retains the same qualities as virgin wood cellulose, and therefore does not need to be mixed with another fiber to maintain an important quality grade.
Another possibility offered by textile recycling is to create new ranges of pigments.
Production scraps or used textiles are transformed into coloring powder thanks to an innovative technique using only natural chemical substances.
The range of shades surprises with the brightness and intensity of its colors, whereas one might assume that ‘recycled’ means ‘washed out.’
Compatible with a wide variety of materials — cotton, linen, wool, artificial, or polyamide —these dyes are applied in suspension and so are easier to filter, making it possible to reduce treatment costs and to significantly improve filtration of wastewater.