Wool is an exceptionally durable animal fabric; therefore, clothing manufactured with it generally have a long life, but that’s not all. Wool is also highly and readily recyclable, and the resulting ‘new’ fibre may be reused to manufacture exquisite textiles, prolonging the lifetime of clothes, eliminating – or decreasing – the use of virgin materials, and helping reduce environmental stress. The wool recycling process is labour-intensive and demands specialist expertise, so let’s dig in and learn everything we can about it.
What is recycled wool?
The fibre created when wool is spun, woven, knitted, or felted into a wool product and subsequently transformed into a fibrous condition without ever being utilised by the ultimate customer is referred to as “recycled wool.” Another ecologically beneficial option is recycled wool. It saves a significant amount of water, avoids chemicals in dyeing, and keeps worn woollen garments out of landfills. Recycled wool helps to reduce contaminants in the air, water, and soil. Wool is recycled from pre-consumer and post-consumer trash (from wool clothing and items). Recycled wool, especially post-consumer wool, has shorter fibres and must be blended with other or virgin fibres to increase durability.
What are the three ways of recycling wool?
Hand sorting separates textile remnants into their respective colours and cleans them of contaminants. This initial stage is crucial since the shade of yarn used to weave the garments will be determined by the shade of these leftovers. Only a few different kinds of fibre are used in each sorting facility. The fibres from the textile remnants are separated, cleaned, carded, spun, and eventually weaved into new textiles. At the beginning of the operation, any leftovers from the weaving and finishing mills are then utilised again. Wool recycling has three primary routes:
The Closed-loop system is a mechanical technique that restores clothing to its raw fibre condition and then spins the fibre into yarn to create new items (particularly suitable for woollen knitwear).
The Open-loop system: In this case, the wool from a prior product is used to create a new, often industrial product like insulation or mattress padding.
Re-engineering: Companies are creative by recycling old or unsold things into new products, such as producing a bag out of an old woollen jacket or repurposing manufactured waste, such as trimmings, for manufacturing other items.
What is the history of Recycled Wool?
For the majority of sectors, recycling techniques are a relatively new phenomenon. Woollen fabrics, however, are an exception to this rule. Reusing wool fibres to create unique clothing has a long tradition in European textiles, dating back hundreds of years. Benjamin Law, who produced the first recycled wool cloth in a mill in West Yorkshire, England, in 1813, is regarded to have been the first person to recycle wool clothing into new fabric. Since recycled wool fabric was inexpensive to produce and could be created from used garments and textiles, demand for wool scraps to make recycled fabric grew in the UK during the 19th century. The war’s economic consequences significantly influenced apparel manufacturing during the 1940s second world war. All textiles, particularly wool, were strictly rationed. Additionally, it promoted clothes recycling, greatly boosting the amount of recycled wool fabric produced.
Is recycled wool ethical?
Wool is a natural substance produced by sheep or other animals. Thus, it is simple to assume that it is ethical and sustainable, but this is not the case. Typically, wool items include extremely harsh dyes, chemicals, and finishes that can leach into the environment at various times over the product’s existence. Another significant problem is that, compared to other materials, wool produces the largest greenhouse gases during the fibre production process. Sheep are ruminants, meaning they produce a significant quantity of methane released into the atmosphere. Compared to many other textiles, wool production uses a lot less energy and has a smaller carbon imprint. But to allow for grazing, vast areas of land must be maintained clean for animal production. Since no animals are killed or treated inhumanely while recycling wool, it is also ethically correct. If you want to confirm that you are buying recycled wool, there are several certification marks you may check for; the most well-known is the Global Recycled Standard.
Where does recycled wool come from?
Wool textile waste is used to make recycled wool. Recycled wool products come from both pre-and post-consumer wool apparel and production waste. There are two categories of
textile waste: pre-consumer waste made from trimming scraps or any extra yarn production and post-consumer waste made from unworn or abandoned clothing.
While recycled wool fabric originated as a low-cost method of creating wool cloth in an area when wool was scarce, modern production procedures ensure that recycled woollen fabric is just as good quality as virgin wool fabric. Recycled wool could be preferred nowadays since it has the additional advantage of being a more environmentally friendly alternative than fabric made of virgin wool.
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