The use of recycled cotton in the textile industry has been growing over the last few years.
As with other recycled materials, recycled cotton is part of a set of sustainable alternatives to the usage of more conventional raw materials and fibers.
This growth is due to environmental and climate concerns shown by both consumers and producers alike. While the concept is not particularly new, its relevance has grown as the textile industry (and others) have re-evaluated its own carbon footprint.
Recycled cotton allows the use of production surpluses from natural fibers that may have endured or those from previously used circular knitted fabrics, to help reduce the environmental impact and promote the fight against waste.
The touch feel of recycled cotton remains soft and comfortable and gives those who experience it the same sense of excellence they were already used to.
Recycled cotton is a truly sustainable alternative.
Recycled cotton is the result of a process that reverses the circular knitted fabrics made from this raw material, back into fibers. Together with the unavoidable by-products from the production processes, these fibers are then reused once more in the creation of new circular knitted fabrics for textile use.
The process works as follows:
Firstly, the material to be recycled is separated by similar types and colors to form a homogeneous set. Then, this set is processed through a special machine that “breaks” it into smaller and smaller pieces, until they turn back into fibers, ready for reuse.
These are the fibers that we call recycled cotton.
The materials used for its manufacture can have many different origins. However, generally speaking, recycled cotton can come from two different sources: pre-consumer and post-consumer.
Materials from the pre-consumer stage include production surpluses or other residues that may have remained after creating the circular knitted fabrics. It is from this source that the largest volume of materials used for recycled cotton production comes.
In the post-consumer phase, we find other types of materials, namely those coming from products that have been discarded by consumers for whatever reason.
Thus, these end up being diverted from waste dumps, becoming available to produce new circular knitted fabrics made from recycled cotton.
Mainly due to the differences that may exist in the types of colors and mixtures of raw materials found at any given time phase, the entire process naturally ends up requiring more intensive labor.
At the same time, it is also natural that recycled cotton presents characteristics slightly inferior to the more conventional fibers.
This is the main reason why one and the other are often mixed during the process of creating new pieces, so as to guarantee the best possible quality. However, this does not mean that the quality of recycled cotton should be overlooked by any means.
The use of recycled cotton aims to counteract the environmental impact generated by the cultivation, processing, and production of conventional cotton. In this way, greenhouse gases emissions produced by the industry are reduced, as well as the amounts of water or energy needed for the creation of new textile pieces.
As the debate around sustainability and its best practices advances, the need to improve the lives of consumers and extend the useful life of all types of items produced by the textile industry grows more and more.
Recycled cotton fiber is an excellent option for reducing waste and for reusing products that would otherwise be sent to landfills.
At ITJV, we create many circular knitted fabrics, including those made from recycled cotton fibers, available only through catalogue request and sample validation.
This text was written and published in 2021