Recycled cotton yarn: Advantage and application
Recycled cotton yarn is a sustainable textile made from post-consumer or post-industrial cotton waste. It is made by taking discarded cotton textiles such as old clothes or fabric scraps and breaking them down into fibers. These fibers are then spun into yarn that can be used to make new textiles. By reusing cotton waste, cotton recycled yarn reduces the environmental impact of textile production and waste disposal.
How is recycled cotton yarn made?
Recycling cotton is not always a simple process – the options are chemical, mechanical and thermal processing.
Work is still being done to develop ways to scale the process to make it easier and more accessible.
Once the cotton textile waste is received, it is sorted into textile type and color.
The sorting process can be labor-intensive depending on the recycling process used – as not only are fabrics sorted by color, but care needs to be taken to sort blended fabrics.
Many pieces of cotton are mixed with other yarns, which affects the type of recycling process that can be used to make new yarn.
After the textile waste is sorted, it is shredded or made into pulp. From there, the raw material is processed accordingly depending on the recycling method before making new yarn.
Most of the cotton waste that is recycled comes from factory offcuts because it is difficult to sort the second-hand fibers accurately and efficiently.
Advantage of recycled cotton yarn
- Recycled cotton can find new life in a variety of low-grade products such as insulation, mop heads, rags and stuffing.
- The recycling process can divert many products from landfills. According to the Textile Recycling Council, annual textile waste equals 25 billion pounds.
- Energy, water and dye usage is reduced from using a product that has already been processed. Savings are achieved by offsetting the production of new materials. Since recycled cotton yarns are usually obtained from pre-consumer textile scraps that are sorted by color, the yarns have already been dyed.
- CO2 and fossil fuel emission savings can be partially offset by using existing materials. However, collecting, processing and shipping cotton scraps or garments can reduce or neutralize some of these savings
- It reduces the amount of cotton waste sent to landfills, where it would otherwise take up valuable space and contribute to environmental pollution.
- This reduces the need for virgin cotton, which requires large amounts of water, pesticides and fertilizers to grow. By reusing cotton waste, cotton recycled yarn reduces the carbon footprint of textile production and helps conserve natural resources.
Challenges and limitations of cotton recycled yarn
- Cotton must be blended with other fibers to create new yarn for strength and durability, and therefore cannot be continuously recycled.
- The content of recycled cotton will depend on the end-use application. Any amount of recycled product will affect yarn and fabric properties such as evenness, strength and uniformity.
- The cost of recycled yarn is generally higher than the cost of standard, virgin cotton yarn and may be cost-prohibitive.
- Test instruments are made for ginned, virgin cotton. Sometimes, test results can be skewed due to differences in fiber packing and orientation.
- The risk of contamination by other fibers is much higher for recycled cotton. Sewing, sewing thread, small amounts of spandex should all be taken into account when establishing a recycled supply chain.
The fashion brand uses recycled cotton
Levi’s is a denim brand that has been incorporating recycled cotton into its collections since 2009. The brand uses recycled cotton in various products. Its iconic 501 jeans.
Patagonia is a sustainable outdoor clothing brand that uses recycled cotton in its products. The brand uses a mix of recycled cotton and other recycled materials in its clothing and accessories.
H&M, a fast fashion brand, has been incorporating recycled cotton into its collections since 2013. The brand has a dedicated “Close the Loop” collection made from recycled materials, cotton
Everlane is a sustainable fashion brand that has been using recycled cotton in its collections since 2018. The brand’s “Renew” collection includes products made from recycled cotton, t-shirts and sweatshirts.
Adidas is a sportswear brand that has been using recycled cotton in its products since 2012. The brand uses recycled cotton in various products Its iconic superstar sneakers.
Application of recycle cotton
Recycled cotton can be used to make new textiles such as T-shirts, jeans and towels. The process of turning recycled cotton into new textiles involves shredding the material into small pieces and then spinning it into yarn. This yarn can then be used to create new textiles.
Recycled cotton can be used as an environmentally friendly insulation material. It is a good alternative to traditional insulation materials like fiberglass, which can be harmful to the environment and human health.
Recycled cotton can be used to produce paper. It is a good alternative to traditional paper production methods, which require cutting trees.
Recycled cotton can be used as a soundproofing material in the automotive industry. It can be used to reduce noise levels inside the car and improve the overall driving experience.
Recycled cotton can be used to make home decor items such as pillows, curtains and tablecloths. These items are eco-friendly and can add a unique touch to any home.