“Cotton is one of the most used natural fibers because of its qualities: it’s comfortable and breathing, and it drapes nicely. However, the downside of cotton is that it’s one thirsty plant. It takes around 11 000 liters of water to grow 1 kilo of cotton, which makes the irrigation of cotton one of the reasons for the global ecological freshwater crisis.
Unfortunately, freshwater usage is not the only ecological problem with cotton. The farming also occupies huge land areas, and it’s estimated that cotton is currently farmed in an area that equals the size of Turkey. Furthermore, the heavy use of pesticides and insecticides has negative health impacts on both workers and the surrounding ecosystems.
About 10-15% of the raw material is wasted in the production process, and for this waste to not be collected and reused is irrational from both an economical and ecological point of view. Instead of throwing it away, and loosing this huge amount of fabric, we are using the ‘waste’ as our main raw material.
« About 10-15% of the raw material is wasted in the production process, and for this waste to not be collected and reused is irrational from both an economical and ecological point of view »
Pure Waste Textiles makes ecologically sustainable, 100% recycled yarns, fabrics and readymade garments—made entirely out of recycled textile waste—that offers the consumer the same quality and comfort as if it where made out of virgin materials. We source textile waste from CMT factories, open it to fibers, spin it to yarns and knit it back to fabrics. These are used to produce different kinds of garment styles for Pure Waste’s own clothing collection, as well as private label styles.
All garments are 100% recycled, meaning that no new raw materials has been used—even the color comes from ‘waste’, so there’s no need for dyeing. One Pure Waste T-shirt saves 2,700 liters of water compared to one made out of virgin cotton.
Today’s biggest challenges for mechanical recycling comes from waste quality, collecting and sorting. In this world of fast fashion, the raw cotton quality level is changing a lot, and what kind of cutting waste you’re recycling makes a big difference. In the recycling process, uniformity is important. Collecting and sorting should be done not only by color and content, but different kinds of quality levels should be separated too in order to make best possible recycled yarns.
Mechanical recycling of cotton is one alternative that still has a lot of room for innovation and improvement. However, recycling will not be enough in the future. As the world’s population keeps growing, there simply isn’t enough land area for growing cotton. We need to find alternative fibers and take better care of our natural resources.
It won’t be enough for cotton fibers to go through only one lifecycle, and then be thrown away or burned to energy. Current recycling technologies should already allow at least three lifecycles for cotton fibers.
A lot of research and development is done in the area already, and it will be extremely interesting to see what comes up!”
Watch a movie on the process of recycling cotton here!