T-shirt recycling is here, and it could transform fashion

T-Shirt Recycling

This reality might be nearby, because of brands like Marine Layer and factories which have been silently focusing on designing a brand new system of material recycling. Around the 28th of April, Marine Layer drops a brand new assortment of men’s and women’s T-shirts, known as Re-Spun, comprised of 50% recycled cotton T-shirts and 50% other sustainably sourced recycled and virgin fibers. The company partnered having a textile factory in Alicante, The country, on the new recycling technique that needs no chemicals, dyes, or perhaps water.

Couple of decades

In the last couple of decades, engineers have perfected the skill of recycling various materials, from plastic to paper to aluminum, allowing us to reincarnate old products into new versions of this exact same product. The Evian bottle you thrown within the recycling bin may seem on the shelf in the supermarket annually from the magazine you finished over the past weekend may reappear in your doorstep by means of the next issue. (Obviously, all this depends upon functioning recycling systems, which, as my friend Adele Peters highlights, rarely act as planned.)

But until lately, there is not a great way to recycle clothing into new clothes. Modern clothes are constructed with complex textile blends which include both natural and artificial fibers. They’re hard to break lower, since plastic-based nylons and polyesters melt at high temperatures. Also, for a lot of the final century, clothes were considered durable goods, instead of disposable goods, therefore the problem of recycling clothes appeared less pressing than recycling, say, plastic containers.

Fast fashion

But fast fashion made clothes so cheap that lots of consumers now consider clothes as disposable. 100 billion bits of clothing are produced each year. They might circulate throughout the economy for some time-possibly getting sold again in a secondhand store or donated-however they finish in landfills. The typical American throws out 80 pounds of textiles annually. Because most clothes contain some synthetic fibers that aren’t biodegradable, they’ll sit in landfills forever.

A brand new era of favor recycling is finally coming. Now, Marine Layer launches a brand new assortment of T-shirts produced from customers’ old T-shirts.


Towards the customer, the entire process of recycling T-shirts appears stealthily simple: You signal within an old T-shirt, also it will get changed into another T-shirt. However in practice, as Natenshon discovered, the operation is more difficult. “I have numerous more silver hairs from just trying to puzzle out how you can recycle these T-shirts,” he states.

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First, Marine Layer needed to gather old T-shirts: 75,000 to become exact. A few days of Black Friday in 2018, Marine Layer released a phone call asking customers-and everyone-to decrease business old T-shirts in shops, or through pre-compensated mailing envelopes, to get as much as $25 available credit. The organization needed 10,000 T-shirts to produce its first collection, and received way over they expected.

T-Shirt Recycling

Marine Layer’s production

2 yrs before that decision went, Marine Layer’s production team spent several weeks hunting the marketplace for a producer which had the capacity to recycle T-shirts from old T-shirts. At this time, it’s increasingly common for brands to make use of man-made materials-like nylon and polyester-which are recycled from old water bottles. (Recycled synthetic fibers are usually more powerful than recycled cottons and wools, and that’s why brands have rapidly adopted them.) Everlane, for example, is intending to transition entirely to recycled synthetics by 2020.

While Natenshon was available to using plastic-and wound up using plastic bottles included in the Re-Spun fabric blend-he wanted to include fibers from old T-shirts in to the line. This could help produce a circular system using the T-shirt line. “The fast-fashion industry has produced a lot textile waste,” he states. “The greatest problem we’ve at this time is keeping that stuff from landfills. We thought probably the most significant method for the client to shut the loop ended up being to lead towards the recycling process.”

Spanish factory

Early in the year of 2017, the Marine Layer team discovered Recover, a Spanish factory which has found a method to break textiles lower and re-spin the fibers into new yarns. It had been founded with a Spanish family in 1947, and has worked for many years to build up this specific fabric recycling technique. Recover established fact in the market because of its dedication to sustainability.

Because most clothes today comprise fabric blends (like cotton combined with nylon) Recover has figured how you can break lower fabric blends, separate different fibers, then extract the cotton to recycle it. Recover is careful to help keep the size of the fibers as lengthy as you possibly can throughout the shredding process, because longer cotton fibers create high-quality cloth that’s more resistant against pilling. Still, this recycled cotton isn’t as strong as virgin fibers. So Recover strengthens the cotton by weaving it along with other fibers which are also sustainably sourced, including organic cotton, hemp, recycled water bottles, or recycled nylons.

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Natenshon states

There’s a couple of unique areas of Recover’s process. The first is that Recover separates fibers by color, then via a proprietary color-matching process, re-creates each color. This method implies that the factory doesn’t need to use any chemicals or dyes along the way, that are frequently toxic. Marine Layer’s Re-Spun T-shirt line has numerous colorful patterns. This needed many T-shirts of every color.

Another unusual area of the process is it requires no water. Meanwhile, one kilogram (or 2.2 pounds) of virgin cotton requires 15,000 water in becoming fabric, based on research in the College of Valencia. Including the farming, processing, and dyeing process.

Obtaining The CUSTOMER Aboard

Recover’s factory can process just about any outfit to recapture the fibers within.

Natenshon also recognized that point about this first collection involved presenting customers to the idea of a circular system to make T-shirts, and possibly more broadly, for those clothes. During the last six several weeks, the company has already established a unique Re-Spun section on its website, where it describes this project and invites people to request a totally free mailer to transmit within their T-shirts. “We think it is simpler to inform the storyline by focusing on one, familiar object, just like a T-shirt,” he states.

Methods to lower their ecological footprint

But there is additionally a practical need to get customers thinking about T-shirt recycling. For that Re-Spun collection, Marine Layer trusted people to supply the recycleables, so it was vital to ensure they are feel invested along the way. It’s a knowledgeable insight: Data suggests that individuals are more and more worried about the fate from the planet and therefore are searching for methods to lower their ecological footprint.

Within the finish, people submitted greater than 5,000 shirts inside the first 48 hrs after Marine Layer released the phone call. Now the organization has collected 75,000 shirts, with increased arriving every single day, which reveals new options for Marine Layer.

Old T-shirts selecting landfills

All this will need Marine Layer to gather thousands more old T-shirts. The good thing is the old T-shirts really are a raw material the world presently has by the bucket load. “There are ample old T-shirts selecting landfills to fuel the program,” Natenshon states. “It’s nearly getting individuals to send them in. People’s old shirts have nostalgic value for them, and today there’s a method to give these old shirts a brand new existence.”

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