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Everything you need to know about recycled cotton.

We frequently think about recycling non-biodegradable products, but less commonly biodegradable products like cotton.

India is one of the world’s largest cotton producers, accounting for approximately 24 per cent of global cotton production. Cotton is sustainable and renewable, making it an excellent choice as an eco-friendly fibre throughout the product life cycle. Now, Imagine recycling an already biodegradable product.

What exactly is Recycled Cotton?

Recycled cotton is defined broadly as the conversion of cotton fabric into cotton fibre that can be reused in textile products. This allows the item to be repurposed as something else, keeping it out of landfills and incinerators. Cotton that has been recycled is also known as regenerated cotton, reclaimed cotton, or shoddy.

Where is recycled cotton obtained from?

A significant proportion of recycled cotton sources come from pre-consumer waste, such as cutting scraps. Because of the various colour shades and fabric blends, post-consumer waste is more difficult to sort through, and it is generally a more labour-intensive procedure. Other than that used garments, upholstery, towels and household items are the other sources of material for recycled cotton.

What is the fabrication process for recycled cotton?

The majority of recycled cotton is obtained structurally. First, fabrics and materials are colour-sorted. Having followed sorting, the fabrics are fed through a machine that shreds them into yarn and then raw fibre. This is a harsh process that puts a lot of strain on the fibre. Fibres frequently break and become entangled during shredding. The raw fibre is then spun into yarn to be used in other products. The quality of recycled fibre will not be equal to that of the original fibre. Fibre length and length uniformity, in particular, will be impacted, minimising the end-use application. Thus, The process of shredding the fabric into its most basic forms is extremely stressful. As a result, the new fibres are blended with other virgin materials, such as plastic or cotton, to enhance strength and make them sustainable. Another question which comes to mind i

 What credentials are used for recycled cotton?

Global Recycled Standard (GRS) – an international, voluntary full-product standard that establishes requirements for third-party certification of Recycled Content, chain of custody, social and environmental procedures, and chemical restrictions. The GRS hopes to enhance the use of recycled materials in products while minimising the environmental impact of their manufacture.

Global Organic Textile Standards (GOTS) is the largest global organic textile certification standard, encompassing both ecological and social criteria. GOTS covers the entire manufacturing process, from the fibre to the final product.

Now you may think,

Is recycled cotton better for the environment than organic or conventional cotton?

Even though organic cotton farming does not use synthetic agricultural chemicals such as fertilisers and pesticides and is an advancement over conventional methods, it does not address the issue that cotton farming is highly water-intensive and continues to affect eco-hydrology. Whereas, Recycled cotton can be found in a wide variety of low-grade products, which include insulation, mop heads, rags, and stuffing.

When using a pre-processed product, the amount of energy, water, and dye used is reduced. Reduction is possible by offsetting the creation of new materials. Because recycled cotton yarns are usually sourced from pre-consumer textile scraps that have been colour-sorted, the yarns are already dyed.

As the conversation regarding sustainability shifts toward a greater need for improving the life of garments, we should consider using recycled cotton as a great alternative for reducing textile waste and repurposing poorer-quality products. The use of recycled cotton also affirms circularity and the limited use of virgin materials. Recycling represents a change from a linear economy to a circular economy in which raw materials used to produce goods are reused for as long as possible.