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How old clothes are transformed into new fashions

Caroline Zöller

Published on 05.12.2019

There is so much clothing in the world of which less than 1 percent is actually recycled. Most of it finishes up on a waste heap somewhere. The Swedish company Re:newcell took up this challenge and created Circulose as a reaction to the waste problem faced by our affluent society and knowing the large amount of textile fibres out there that could be exploited. Circulose is made exclusively of textiles that have been discarded and broken down to provide new raw materials for making fresh garments – over and over again in accordance with the Cradle2Cradle principle.

Circulose’s production process starts with donated garments that preferably contain a high proportion cotton or rayon. The donated clothing then has all its buttons, rivets, artificial fibres, applications and zippers removed before being shredded and broken down to its fibre components, de-colourised and turned into a textile slurry. This slurry is dried in the form of rectangular sheets. Manufacturers then turn this new textile raw material into clothing again, thus completing the loop.

Renewcell. Photo by: Emil Nordin

Re:newcell explains that their in-house recycling process is considerably more sustainable than traditional methods of producing textile fibres. Their approach requires less water and chemicals and generates lower levels of CO2, saving both resources and the environment.

Renewcell. Photo by: Emil Nordin

The Swedish Circulose plant currently produces about 7000 tonnes of slurry per year without using any new products or fresh textile fibres whatsoever. The recycling process can be repeated up to seven times using the fibres contained in the loop. Up to 99 percent less water is used than when manufacturing new cotton. Circulose is certified, biodegradable, recyclable, and has similar properties to conventional cotton fibres.

An initial basic Circulose collection was presented at the international fashion fair Première Vision in Paris. Re:newcell is currently working on joint projects with other brands to be able to distribute their product more broadly.

Sustainable resources are also stimulating discussions about future textile manufacturing scenarios at the up-coming PromoTex Expo. On stand L15 in Hall 12, Pure Waste Textiles (link will be presenting ecologically sustainable and up to 100 percent recycled yarns, fabrics and ready-to-garments made from textile waste. They will also be represented by a recycling project on the Textile Campus in Hall 12, stand N59.

Like Re:newcell, Pure Waste Textiles’ goal is to reduce the need for growing natural resources like cotton to cater for the needs of the textile industry and to offer consumers sustainable alternatives to fast fashion. Here too, the company’s focus is on utilising materials left over from textile production and creating sustainable products.

Images: Circulose / Re:newcell