Swedish Startup Turning Textile Waste Into New Materials For The Fashion Industry
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Welcome to the third newsletter on sustainability innovation, bringing you the most innovative people, ideas, and brands that is making a real positive impact on climate change today. Every issue covers an opportunity to make a difference for people, planet, and profit.
The Swedish startup Renewcell is recycling cotton into new alternative materials for the fashion industry. Ten years in the making, their Circulose is getting traction with companies like H&M and Levi’s.
The fashion industry is dependent on a wide range of materials, from traditional materials like cotton, linen, and leather to synthetic oil-based materials like polyester and nylon, to cellulosic fibers like viscose and rayon made from trees and bamboo.
Renewcell has developed a textile-to-textile process where they turn textile waste, like worn-out jeans and production scraps, into a dissolving pulp cellulose to make viscose, lyocell, modal, acetate and other types of regenerated fibers. They call it Circulose for circular cellulose.
While the clothing industry has been recycling natural textiles for decades, the fashion industry has been slow in sustainability innovation for the synthetic materials and cellulosic fibers they use the most but that’s about to change.
This year Renewcell is opening up a new factory in an old paper mill in northern Sweden to produce 120,000 tonnes – 2 percent of yearly cellulose fiber production – which they plan to triple by 2030, challenging the traditional producers in Asia.
The recycled dissolving pulp product Renewcell makes can replace wood pulp in any production facility that is making cellulosic fibers. But despite the huge opportunity the Swedish startup is saying no to recycling overproduction, encouraging brands and consumers to reuse, remake, resell before recycling.
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