Recycled Fabrics What They Are and Where to Buy Them

Recycled fabrics in different colors and types stored in the warehouse

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What are recycled fabrics?

Recycled fabrics are materials made from waste materials that are reprocessed into nuove fibers to then be transformed into yarn and subsequently into nuovi fabrics and products:

Waste material -> fiber -> yarn -> fabric -> nuovi garments or other textile products.
Waste material -> fiber -> yarn -> fabric -> nuovi garments or other textile products.

there different types of recycled fabrics made in very different ways, depending on the type of material to be recycled and the final use of the fiber.

However, we can mainly divide them into two groups:

  1. Recycled fabrics made from other fabrics or second-hand clothing.
  2. Recycled fabrics made from other materials, such as plastic bottles or food waste.

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What are recycled fabrics?

Among the most used recycled fabrics in fashion we have:

There are also other recycled fabrics such as the viscose, but cotton and polyester are undoubtedly the most popular recycled fabrics and therefore easier to find on the market.

In the research phase it is good to know that polyester takes on many different shapes and names when it is recycled and transformed into yarn / fabric. For example Econyl, NewLife, Renew, etc, are all materials composed of rPET, but you won't find them online with this name.

Where to buy recycled fabrics?

Buy recycled fabrics it is not simple, since the suppliers are decidedly limited. In fact, there are few suppliers who distribute these materials, especially in small quantities.

To help designers and craftsmen, we have been scouting for 6 years now, publishing a list of suppliers of "ecological" materials, including many derived from recycled cotton e recycled polyester:

In the list you will not only find recycled fabrics, but more than 40 fabrics and materials with low environmental impact.

How are fabrics recycled?

Fabric recycling is a very complex operation, especially when it comes to clothes and various garments. Which is why recycled fabrics often have higher costs than virgin materials. It seems a contradiction, but today it is the reality.

Current fabric recycling technologies are not as cutting-edge as one might expect, not to mention that eco-design of products is still "utopia".

In fact, one of the biggest issues you face are fabric blends, such as 60% Cotton 40% Polyester. This type of fabric is very complex to recycle compared to a fabric made up of 100% of a single material, or 100% of several natural materials or several synthetic materials.

Which is why a large part of clothing (or textile products) made from blended fabrics still ends up in landfills and incinerators instead of being recycled, thus creating an enormous waste of resources.

However, we begin to see a small light "at the bottom of the tunnel", since nuoTechnologies are developing rapidly and we will soon be able to recycle most of the materials on the market at “affordable” costs.

Find out more on the topic:

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We are a non-profit association engaged since 2016 in the promoting a more ethical and sustainable fashion.

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