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How recent improvements in textile recycling are fueling the circular fashion business model.

Circular fashion is quickly becoming the next buzz word in the fashion industry, and for good reason. Recent technological improvements in the growing textile recycling sector are leading to new and better fabrics and opening up a new source of raw materials - clothing waste.

Linear vs Circular Economy - By Catherine Weetman - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

According to the EPA, the US alone generates 16 million tons of textile waste per year (as of 2015), an average of nearly 100 pounds per person every year. And the fashion industry is only getting bigger - globally producing about 150 billion new articles of clothing each year (which equals 20 pieces of new clothing per person alive on the planet per year), according to CalRecycle. So creating circular business models in the fashion industry makes perfect sense, because this current rate of clothing production and fashion disposal is unsustainable.

Until just a few years ago, cotton was incredibly difficult to recycle because the fibers become too short and broken to be spun back into high quality threads. However, in 2017 several Scandinavian companies and research firms presented new ways to dissolve cotton and other natural fibers that resulted in the creation of new fibers that are actually stronger than the original and can in fact be recycled over and over again. This process has since been applied to a variety of blended fabrics that contain both natural and synthetic fibers leading to more efficient ways to recycle the types of clothing being mass-produced (and mass-disposed of) by the major fast fashion retailers. Since 2017 a handful of companies worldwide are perfecting the process and new textiles are making their way to market, notably re:newcell out of Sweden, Evrnu out of Seattle, and smaller up-and-comers like AmberCycle out of Los Angeles.

But to be clear, circular fashion doesn't only mean sourcing fabrics recycled from old clothing - there are an array of fabrics recycled from plastic water bottles that are already on the market. To learn a variety of ways that you can start to implement a circular fashion business model into your brand, please contact today.


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