Let's be honest, recycling is usually the first thing that comes to mind when we seek a change towards eco-responsibility. Without opening here the debate on whether recycling is a real solution or if it can cause distortions, let's examine what materials can currently be recycled.tradition and innovation
Some will say that wool recycling dates back to the Middle Ages, which means that wool spinners were the pioneers in this field. Our winter wools undergo mechanical recycling to get a new life.
This technique is also suitable for cotton, which can be colour-sorted, shredded and re-spun to produce a new quality of yarn.
Cotton can also be chemically recycled into new cellulosic materials, thus avoiding the need to use wood. These technologies are recent, but they are spreading rapidly and are increasingly present in the collections of knitters and knitters. Flax and hemp are being studied to see if they are suitable for these processes. However, in 2022, these developments are still very marginal.
Leather also has a history of recycling, which results in the production of synderme, used in the soles or linings of leather goods. Developments are being refined to offer softer materials for more versatile applications.
Metals quickly enter the recycling loop as they can be recycled infinitely, meaning even the smallest scrap of production is quickly melted down for use in another design.Responsibility and closed circuits
As encouraging as it is to see an increase in recycling in fashion, one essential statistic cannot be overlooked: only 1% of materials produced come from recycling textiles into new fabrics. The rise of recycled polyester has been possible thanks to sources from other industries, since PET bottles represent 99% of the raw material.
However, if there is one material that has experienced colossal growth in the last 20 years, it is polyester. With such a rich vein of materials to extract, before starting to promote the advantages of recycling synthetics, our sector should continue to invest in research and development to reabsorb and regenerate what it has already put on the market.
Making the initial design of materials as eco-friendly as possible should continue to be considered a priority lever, as the greatest limit to recycling materials in a closed loop is at the heart of textiles. High fiber blends, the presence of more than 2% elastane, metallic or plastic threads, and attached or embroidered decorations disrupt the recycling process and may render certain textiles non-recyclable.
In addition to their recycled or recyclable properties, we must also check whether these textiles offer resistance similar to that of conventional materials. And make sure that recycled synthetics are used only when their technical performance is essential, because recycled or not, the shedding of synthetic microfiber particles remains a major concern.