Did you know that it is possible to recycle clothes?

Find out on iFood News how to give an environmentally correct destination to those cotton clothes that are sitting in your closet

Application shows where you can discard clothes you no longer use so they can be recycled or used as fuel in the cement industry

Anyone who wants to give an environmentally correct destination to clothes they no longer want or can no longer use can do so through recycling. Yes, donating or reusing a piece are no longer the only solutions for those who find themselves in doubt about what to do with clothes that are no longer used.

Since March this year, consumers in different cities and regions of Brazil have found used clothing disposal points in some C&A, Reserva and YouComm stores. A Circular Platform, website and application by Cotton Move, the company that created this circular economy, shows where to recycle clothes, indicating the nearest place for consumers to prevent used clothes from ending up in a landfill.

According to the website Recycle Sampa, the Brazilian Association of the Textile and Clothing Industry (Abit) estimates that 160 thousand tons of textile waste are generated in Brazil per year. From this mountain of waste, 50% could be recycled.

More: the Ellen MacArthur Foundation estimates that a truck of textile waste ends up in landfills or incinerators every second on the planet and that less than 1% of the material used in the production of clothing (textile fibers) is recycled and destined for the production of new clothing. The economic loss is believed to be US$ 500 million, not to mention the contribution to pollution.

“The complexity of recycling in the textile industry exists, because we have an infinite number of types of equipment, production modes and types of fibers and filaments”, recognizes José Guilherme Teixeira, founder of Cotton Move. “But it is possible to recycle clothes in Brazil, both those discarded by consumers and the pre-consumption waste from the industry, that leftover fabric from the production process. We can reuse this,” he says.

Can any clothing be recycled?

Today Brazil has the technology to recycle cotton. This means that for a garment to enter the circle of circular economy it needs to have some percentage of cotton in its composition (above 30% it is already possible to do some recycling). The higher the percentage of cotton in the piece, the more reuse cycles will be possible.

“Polyester, despite its potential for recycling, is still something more limited. You can even have a recycled fabric containing polyester, but the next recycling cycle will be much more limited than if you work with a 100% cotton product”, explains Jonas Lessa, CEO of Retalhar. iFood's partner in the project I've Been Bag is responsible for the reverse logistics of the Circular Platform.

Brazil does not yet have technology for recycling synthetic fibers, such as polyester. Outside the country there is greater progress, although not yet on an industrial scale, with chemical recycling, which consists of adding a solvent to separate the materials that make up the fiber.  

Although clothes made from synthetic materials are not yet recycled, they can be deposited in the Cotton Move project boxes. Instead of going to landfill, its destination will be the cement industry's furnaces, to be used in energy co-processing, replacing a fossil fuel.

The four paths your discarded clothes can take

Recycling and energy co-processing are the main destinations for clothing discarded on the Cotton Move Circular Platform. But not the only ones.

Your clothes can also be reused to become a new product (an action known as upclycling) to return to the market or forwarded, when still in good condition, to those in need, as a form of donation.

Now, why should we recycle clothes that we no longer want to use? At the beginning of the text we talked about the problem of producing textile waste. Only then is there a very plausible justification for adopting this practice.

But if one more reason is needed, we can think about preserving natural resources. As the population grows, the demand for products, such as clothing, increases. To meet this demand, it is necessary to increase the production capacity of the raw material that will be used in the production of that piece, be it a natural fiber (from cotton) or synthetic (from plastic). This account includes the use of water, soil, energy….

And our quota of use of natural resources has already exceeded all limits. According to the Akatu Institute, if we could put everything we consume in life from natural resources into drums and stack them, this column would be the same height as a 160-story building. Our beloved planet Earth takes a year and a half to regenerate everything that is used in a year.

“It is a matter of urgency. We need to reuse materials and develop new products that can be recycled”, says Teixeira.

In my city there is no collection point. What to do?

If you are unable to deliver your clothes to one of the collection points, some things can still be done with your clothes. Donating, preferably to those who will really need it and use it, is a solution.

It is also possible to repair a torn garment or reuse it in other products (such as upcycling which we talked about above). ]

How clothing recycling works

1. Consumer disposes of correctly

It all starts with you taking the clothes you no longer want to a Cotton Move collection point.

2. Reverse manufacturing

The clothes are taken for sorting and evaluation. Here they can have four destinations:

1. Donation to those in need;

2. Energy co-processing for the cement industry;

3.      Upcycling, The transformation into new products;

4. Recycling, the clothes will become raw material to create a fiber.

3. Deconstruction of clothing

The clothes that go to the upcyling and recycling go through a dismantling process, in which zippers, buttons and everything else that isn't fabric are removed.

4. Refrigeration

The material that is suitable for recycling goes through a recooling process to obtain a new fiber. At this stage, the material becomes a blend (mixture of recycled with virgin raw material).

The life cycle of cotton can be extended by 2 to 4 times.

5. Industry

Stage in which the recovered fiber will become a thread, which will then be transformed into fabric.

6. Making

Recycled fabric is used as raw material in manufacturing and can become pants, t-shirts, curtains, bedspreads, cushions, etc. Cotton Move produces some pieces with recycled cotton.

7. Store

The manufactured product returns to the market and closes the circle of the circular economy.

Was this content useful to you?

Related posts