New Generation Sustainable Fibers & Innovations

Nowadays, only 1% of textiles are effectively recycled. When garments are worn out or no longer wanted, some are sold second-hand or used as hand-me-downs, but the vast majority end up in landfills or are sent to incinerate. The recycling rate is low since certain materials, particularly polycotton garment, cannot be recycled with satisfactory quality on a large enough scale. At the same time, garments and their components are held together by a synthetic high-strength thread mostly made of polyester. Before recycling, the threads need to be removed, which is an expensive process. The lifecycle of garments would come to a stop.

In order to tackle the above difficulties in facilitating the recycling of garments, some start-ups have invented materials thatcould either be easily dissolved or regenerated, which could bring massive changes to the lifecycle of garments in the long term.

Image Courtesy: Pangaia, Evrnu
Seattle, WA, USA
The Mills Fabrica
Regenerative Fiber Technologies That Transform Discarded Old Clothing Into New Raw Materials

Evrnu is the inventor and intellectual property owner of a wide range of regenerative fiber technologies. Named NuCycl, this process enables entirely new products to be made from discarded clothing, not just once but multiple times. The company has also invented fiber technologies that enable old clothing to be transformed into new, high-quality raw materials.

These technologies are a solution to the greatest threats currently facing the industry: textile waste, resource consumption, and environmental damage. Evrnu’s manufacturing processes use 98% less water than what is required for virgin cotton production, eliminating 80% of typical pollutant emissions, and can be regenerated multiple times. The company offers an environment-sparing alternative for the world's highest demand fibers -- cotton, polyester, and rayon -- and is currently being adopted by the world's largest brands and retailers.

NuCycl technology uses repolymerization turning even the toughest type of textile waste into new materials. This process creates pristine new regenerative lyocell fibers from textile waste, providing both performance and environmental advantages compared to virgin fiber. One of the company’s products is a highperformance, fully recyclable material made entirely from cotton waste. In what the company calls a “huge breakthrough” for the industry, Evrnu sources discarded cotton to create more sustainable fibers that can replace conventional textile materials.

In addition to its strength and comfort properties, NuCycl materials can also be recycled up to ten times, enabling the textile industry to transform waste into a valuable resource. Evrnu is facilitating this development by constructing a new facility in the southeast United States that will process about 17,000 metric tons of pulp and 2,000 tons of fiber every year.

The Mills Fabrica
Dissolving Used Cotton To Produce Biodegradable Materials

Renewcell, a Swedish company, aims to find a way out of this problem by offering a recycling technology that dissolves used cotton and other cellulose fibers and transforms them into a new, biodegradable raw material called Circulose pulp. It then sells the product to manufacturers, who use it to make biodegradable virgin quality viscose or Lyocell textile fibers.

Circulose is a branded “dissolving pulp” product that Renewcell makes from 100% textile waste such as worn-out jeans and production scraps. There are other “dissolving pulp” products on the market, but the difference with Circulose is that it is made from textile waste instead of wood, thus reducing the need to cut down trees. Fibres produced with Circulose can help brands limit the use of virgin textiles and reduce the climate and environmental impact caused by raw material production and waste. Renewcell 1, the first industrial-scale, textile-to-textile recycling facility in the world, opened in August 2022 in northern Sweden, which recycles worn-out jeans and production scraps to manufacture up to 60,000 metric tonnes of Circulose pulp every year.

The company has already signed deals with major fashion brands like Zara and H&M to supply them with Circulose. Such collaborations could potentially save hundreds of millions of garments from landfills and incineration each year, contributing to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from the textile industry.

Brussles, Belgium
Heat-dissolvable Stitching Thread That Facilitates Garment Dismantling Process

Resortecs is committed to achieving full circularity in the textile and fashion industries. Today, only 1% of textiles are effectively recycled. This is because in the modern production process, garments and their components are held together by a synthetic highstrength thread mostly made of polyester. Before recycling, the garment needs to be separated and the thread removed, proving expensive. Without this process, the quality of the recycled product will be compromised.

Resortecs’ mission is to make recycling easy and actionable for fashion brands, recyclers, and all supply chain partners through innovative design-fordisassembly technology, which enables high-quality textile recycling on an industrial scale.

The company has come up with a heat-dissolvable stitching thread that enables recycling of endof-life items easy, beginning from the product’s manufacturing stage. Resortec has also invented a thermal disassembly system that allows recyclers to tap into higher volumes of premium material and process millions of garments per year without losing quality. When combined, these innovations make it possible to recover up to 90% of clothing fabric and empower the garment industry to rise to today’s environmental challenges.

By using Resortecs’ patented technology, the percentage of textile lost in the recycling process is reduced to 10%, while the integrity of the textile is not damaged, meaning that new garments can use a higher percentage of recycled material. Furthermore, the company’s process makes the garment dismantling process much easier and five times faster. This improves the effectiveness and economic viability of recycling, particularly in countries where labour costs are high.