New issue out now!
45recyclinginternational.com | November/December | 2019
and is projected to reach 130 million
tonnes by 2025.
Meanwhile, major retailers offering up
to two dozen new collections every
year are fuelling consumption further.
It won’t surprise many that the aver-
age usage of an item of clothing has
decreased by 36% over the last 15
years. In China, for example, an item
of clothing was traditionally worn 200
times – today it’s only 60. In the US,
the figure is currently around 40.
Buzzing witH cReAtivity
‘Clothes are part of our everyday lives,
from the uniforms we wear for work,
to the outfits that express our person-
al identity,’ acknowledges Francois
Souchet of the Ellen MacArthur
Foundation. ‘But beyond that, fashion
is a huge part of our economy. It’s a
US$ 3 trillion (EUR 2.7 trillion) a year
industry and employs millions of peo-
ple around the world. That means it
has serious consequences for society,
business and the environment.’
The most exciting thing about the
foundation’s work with the fashion
industry has been to see how much
creativity and innovation already
exists, he adds. Souchet compliments
companies such as Orange Fibre and
Bolt Threads for using their skills to
tackle the issue of safe and renewable
materials, while noting that YCloset
and Rent the Runway are showing the
huge potential for new business mod-
els that ensure clothing is used more
As well as this, big brands such as
Eileen Fisher are taking back clothing
to sell it as ‘vintage’ pieces online or
recycling it. The designer launched
the Tiny Factory project in 2009 and
since then has ‘revived’ 1.2 million
otHeR exciting initiAtives:
• Cadel Deinking removes printed ink
and labels from plastics and uses
mechanical recycling can produce
high quality, high recycled-content
pellets. The Spanish company’s de-
inking technology produces pellets
of similar quality to that of new plas-
tics and can be used in the same
applications as new materials.
• Cocoon Biotech has developed a
bio-technology platform to produce
a bio-compatible silk protein. The
US company’s platform dissolves
raw cocoon silk, post-consumer silk
waste and supply chain waste into a
liquid protein solution from which
fibre, liquids and gel materials can
• Frankie Collective is dedicated to
reworking surplus products into
high-demand streetwear styles for
women. Vintage garments and over-
stock that would otherwise end up
in landfill are salvaged and
reworked in Canada into contempo-
• RE-NT Based in Germany, RE-NT
offers a circular, fashion rental service.
• Resortecs from Belgium produces a
dissolvable stitching thread for the
easy repair and recycling of gar-
ments. Used in attaching trimmings,
such as zippers, buttons and fasten-
ers, the threads are designed to dis-
solve when exposed to heat during
the repair, recycling or reuse of gar-
ments taken from unsold stock.
• Returnity creates custom designed,
reusable and recyclable shipping
packaging for individuals and busi-
nesses, providing a sustainable
packaging solution for a better cus-
tomer experience and engagement.
Based in California.
wHAt kind of wAste?
Cotton makes up almost 45% of
textile scrap in Europe, according
to a report from the European
Clothing Action Plan. Synthetic
materials such as polyamide,
nylon and acrylic (20%) and poly-
ester (16%) are next, followed by
wool (9%), viscose (9%), and silk/
did you know?
• The average lifetime of a piece of clothing is approximately three years
• Recycled polyester had a 14% market share in the global textiles industry
• More than 70% of the world’s population uses second-hand clothing
• Around 20% of post-consumer clothing is used to produce polishing and
• Another 26% serves insulation products, upholstery, fibreboard, and mat-
• The US is the world’s largest importer of garments
• More than 15 million tonnes of used textile waste is generated each year
in the US and this has doubled in the last 20 years.
• Producing a single cotton shirt requires 2 700 litres of water, the volume
drunk by one person in two-and-a-half years.
Stacy Flynn of Evrnu just secured millions in funding.
Edwin Keh (right) of is exploring how to recycle spandex.
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