3 Case Studies Highlighting the Potential Impact of

 High-Value Textile-to-Textile Recycling

The Challenges

Transforming post-consumer textile waste into high-quality, textile products

Proving the business and environmental case for the high value (textile-to-textile) recycling of denim

Unpacking the potential of workwear waste streams

The Potential of High-Value Textile Recycling

Today, 20 million tonnes of textiles are being landfilled or incinerated annually in the EU and US alone and an estimated 95% of all these textiles, could be re-worn or recycled.

How can we curb virgin fibre production and utilise textile waste? 

We need to transition to a circular textiles industry. 

High value or textile-to-textile recycling enables leftover textile fabrics or garments that are no longer in use to be redirected back into the textiles loop as recycled raw materials, to create circular fashion. Leveraging untapped ‘waste’ streams to create new textiles on a large scale would enable the textiles industry to drastically cut down it's need for virgin textile resources and significantly reduce the negative impacts associated with virgin cotton fibre production and textile waste.

In 2016 Circle Economy joined forces with our members Recover, ReBlend, G-Star and ReShare to test and prove the true potential of high-value recycling. 


Results overview

  • Recycled denim fabric has a price premium of 12.5% compared with virgin equivalents
  • A maximum of 30% recycled fibres could be used in the recycled yarn in order for it to retain the needed strength for weaving and finishing
  • Recycled denim fabric with only 12% recycled content already has a much lower environmental impact than its virgin equivalent


Results overview

  • Almost 7 tonnes of post consumer garments were processed to produce 6 tonnes of new 100% recycled yarns 
  • Four different colour yarns were made with 70% recycled post consumer garments and and 30% RPET 
  • Circle Economy performed a Life Cycle Assessment on one of the recycled yarns (White Cream) to asses the environmental impact savings associated with producing ReBlend 100% recycled yarns


Results overview

  • Several tons of old Dutch navy and army uniforms were successfully transformed into new yarns that were used to produce humanitarian aid blankets
  • The yarns were made with 80% recycled military uniforms
  • A reduction in water consumption, decreased energy use and a reduced CO2 emissions were realised, when compared to a non recycled yarn

Project Partners

Acting as a partner for all three of the projects, Recover creates upcycled yarn that is comparable to virgin yarn and is offered at a competitive price with a fraction of the environmental impact. Since 1947 the Ferre family has been producing upcycled cotton yarns in Banyeres de Mariola, Spain. The Recover Upcycled Textile System regenerates cotton fiber from old clothing and cutting scraps. Recover cotton is produced using none of the water and toxic chemicals required for conventional cotton fiber. 

Circle Economy’s Circle Textiles Program has a unique focus on end-of life and whole-systems redesign. The ultimate goal of the program is to achieve a zero-waste industry, by developing and establishing a commercial and scalable model for closing the loop on post-industrial, pre-consumer and post-consumer textiles. We collaborate closely with members of our Circle Economy network and our community of collectors, sorters, recyclers, brands and cities to develop groundbreaking pilot projects, that can create best practices for the future.
To learn more about how your company can become a member of the Circle Textiles community contact us!

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