Recycling Textile Wastes


Debjit Biswas, Gautam Bar

National Institute of Fashion Technology, Bhubaneswar, India.


The textile industry is among the most important industries in the field of consumer goods. However, the textile industry is accused of being one of the most polluting sectors. Not only the waste is generated in the production, but also by the consumption of textiles. To counter the problem, many measures have been taken by the textile industry to reduce its negative contribution to the environment. Textile recycling, both the reuse and reproduction of fibres from textile waste, is one such measure. Recycling can be done by material, chemical and mechanical processes. Recycling of textiles is useful for environmental and economic conditions by reducing the demand for textile chemicals, reducing landfill space requirements, reducing energy consumption and reducing water waste. Market research and efforts are needed to raise awareness among consumers and encourage producers to increase the use of recycled textile waste in new products. In manufacturing, sustainability is the key. Research on the use of textile waste has a top mark in the current market trends.

In manufacturing, sustainability is the key. Research on the use of textile waste has a top mark in the current market trends. The fashion industry is now more inclined to produce goods with minimal societal impact. Exportation and Importation, in connexion with eco-friendly production techniques, many new regulations have been welcomed. This current article focuses on the significant moves of the fashion industry to create a better world for current and future generations.



Figure 1 Dumping of Textile wastes as landfills

Textiles are manufactured to perform various functions for the ease of accessibility of the users. One of the world’s oldest and most established recycling industries is the textile recycling industry. Whereas the textile industry has a long history of large proportion of production of large amount of waste each year. Commercially, the production of textile waste is influenced by the production of textile products. The greater the production, the greater is the quantity of waste[1]. There is some negative impact of the textile industry on the environment. The manufacturing of clothes generates large quantities of textile waste, which ends up in landfills. Only a small amount is re-used.  This landfill deposit can pose a serious danger to humans and the surrounding environment. Once disposed of on the ground, the textiles try to age and decompose. Population growth has exploited most of our natural resources and, using naturally derived textile fibres, it is impossible to supply the entire globe. Therefore, man-made petrochemical-based synthetics have evolved. These do not easily degrade[2]. The decomposition of such materials releases toxic greenhouse gases and also directly and indirectly pollutes water bodies. In this scenario, shifting to better waste management practises is important for the textile industry. It will be impossible for waste to be dumped in landfills[2,3].


Pre-consumer textile waste is the production waste produced by the processing of fibres and the manufacture of finished yarns and textiles, technical textiles, nonwovens, clothing, including off-cuts, forests, discarded materials, etc. Generally, this waste is clean waste. Post-consumer textile waste consists of any type of clothing or household textile that is no longer needed by the consumer because it is worn out, damaged, or out of fashion. This category was of reasonable to good quality clothing that can be recovered and subsequently recycled as second-hand clothing by another consumer, much of which is sold to third-world nations such as Togo, Ethiopia, Comoros, Haiti, etc. Industrial textile waste, including commercial waste such as carpets and curtains, is generated from commercial and industrial textile applications. “In general, this waste is” dirty waste. A significant percentage of these end-of – life goods are incinerated or dumped in landfills[4].

To address the issue, many measures have been taken by the textile industry to reduce its negative contribution to the environment. The method of reusing or reprocessing used clothing, fibrous materials and clothing scraps from the manufacturing process is one of these measures. A key idea of modern waste management is recycling. Recycling is the reprocessing of waste materials into new or reusable products. 99% of the textiles used are recyclable[4,5].

In physical recycling, the production of waste and post-consumer products is reprocessed into new products using the recycling process or the processing of mixed plastic waste. Physical recycling is more beneficial than chemical recycling because of its simpler, cheaper and more environmentally friendly process. Chemical recycling is intended to convert polymers of high molecular weight to substances of low molecular weight. The substances obtained may be used for the preparation of other chemicals and polymers as reactants. Textile waste recycling can serve as a means of providing solutions to many economic, environmental and social problems. Although textile recycling has ancient history, due to the Fast Fashion culture in the Western world that has resulted in over consumption of textiles and corresponding waste generation, it has assumed primary importance in recent years. When a component can be recycled into its original product, i.e. called ‘closed loop’ recycling, the least costly and adverse effect on the environment is[6].

Sustainable apparels

Eco-fi produces textiles made from 100% recycled PET fibres and is used in a variety of applications, such as home textiles, car interiors, furniture, upholstery and craft items. The blends with wool on the market are also very popular. Another sustainable brand that uses discarded drinking PET bottles and produces yarns is Lutradur ECO. A two-litre PET bottle is made of one square metre of fabric. Seaqual fibre is manufactured by upcycling ocean waste. In 2017, this special initiative will turn plastics into textile fibres. From then on, research can be conducted every day to produce products for packaging, home textiles , apparel, upholstery, sports and even protective clothing. Safeleigh is another example. It was recently launched by leigh fibres to create a clothing line that has flame retardancy as a natural character using the cut scarp of protective clothing such as fire men’s clothing, bullet proof vest and mix with aramid (natural FR fibre). [1].


Also suitable for staying in the chain or eco-friendly textile production are fibres made from organic sources. The rubbers used together with the worn-out tyres in the shoe sole, automotive, industry and sports are all collected and subjected to recycled rubber called Green rubber [2]. The idea of being the Datuk Vinod Sekhar brain child is now expanding its fields of application. Dandelion root rubber is some of the newly derived fibres that Aid to reduce the footprint of carbon in textiles. Globally, many of these reclaimed and recycled fibres are used. Manufactures K-sorb (Eco-sorb international)

Regenerated textiles that are used in industries, sludge stabilization and different programmers for environmental remediation. Barnhardt is a very old recycling company that supplies cotton that is regenerated, recycled and recycled as cotton. Homogeneous mixtures with a lower absorption rate than virgin cotton. By importing textile waste around the globe, melting and making needle punched non-woven, Stein fibers are made.


Eco-friendly initiatives by Fashion Brands

To recycle old PET bottles, Patagonia has developed techniques. In the Armani Jeans, Eco-simple, Marks & Spencer clothing lines, these recycled fibers are available. There are a few more companies that use PET bottle recycling to release their labels. To create one air of Denim Pant, Levi Strauss uses eight plastic bottles. In order to reduce the size of the show box, monitor the effluent discharged, recycle the cloth hangers, collect the extra clothing from the public, recycle and use the yarns for new clothing and footwear, Nike has taken initiatives. They have designed various steps for clean production in cooperation with NASA. Using 15 bottles for the jersey and 18 bottles for the pants, Nike designed the Team India Kit for World Cup 2015 for the Indian Cricket team. The winner of this sustainability award worked with the Ocean Conservation Group to recycle ocean waste fishing nets and plastics into fibre for clothing.


Textile Recycling

Exploring degradable non-conventional fibers

Awareness of the adverse effects of non-degradable synthetics has recently opened up enormous possibilities for manufacturers to think of degradable / compostable textiles. Nappy pads, wipes, Agro-textile mulching sheets, Car interiors are now made in a way that will return to nature after its life cycle. The era of non-wovens and disposals is this. If industry research can concentrate on materials with 100 percent natural origin that can be completely degraded when thrown onto the landfills after their life cycle, it will be lucrative. It is possible to process natural and regenerated fibres in this way. The market is being hit by biodegradable PLA plastics. Corn-derived PLA (Poly lactic acid). In medical textiles, the natural anti-microbial property is further enhanced and applied. When thrown into the landfill, this fabric is compostable / degradable. [3,4,5] Harmful textile effluents also receive microbe treatment and are further converted into a compound to ensure safe disposal. [6,7] Harmful textile effluents also receive microbe treatment and are further converted into a compound to ensure safe disposal. [6,7]


Reclaiming fiber from fabric

To make wiping cloth, yarns-untwisted and re-spun into new yarn varieties, mattresses and wadding, reclaimed / recycled fibres can be used. Regeneration is another technique where heat and chemicals regenerate the fibre from a natural source. For instance, Tencel, Lyocell, and Seacell are some of the popular brands that make wood textile fibres. The trees are cut and the wood is chopped into small particles, which are passed through a spinneret when treated with chemicals and under high temperature and pressure and converted into a textile filament. To make fabrics with sustainable properties, these are used. [8] The technique of textile production, which uses very short fibres and bonds them with heat, resin, chemicals and ironing, is called non-woven, creating a textile-like material. The recycled fibres may be heterogeneous and thus it is not possible to form a systematic fibre length and fabric, and non-woven can be resourceful.


 Non-woven Technology

With fibre-reinforced polymers that find their origin from recycled materials, composite technology is also advancing. The majority of thermoplastic fibres, such as polyester, will be melted and converted into granules for the production of recycled fibres. In making composites, natural fibres are also used. Pine apple fibres are used for the purpose of reinforcement. Some of the popular unconventional fibre types that hit the market are coir, basalt, kenaf, hemp, bamboo, flax, jute , sisal, arecanut, and banana. These can also be used to melt and hold the base matrix of textile material in non-woven fabrication. There is good potential for such recycled materials to be used in insulation. [9,10,11] In the old days, textiles were manufactured and then tested for their end-use suitability and, if positive, for a purpose, made into the product requested. In contrast, yarn properties for functional finishing are decided and executed on the basis of the properties required for fibre selection in the end product.

Composite – non woven made from recycled textiles


Handmade paper

It is interesting to know that old textiles are used in paper making when discussing the possibilities of recycling old textiles. This is a conventional way to make paper of high quality. The American currency and it is believed that papers on bonds [12]. The environmentally friendly papermaking industry is coming to find that old fabrics are an outstanding biding material. The matrix in the handmade paper is constructed using bio-mass, agro waste and old cotton textiles. [13] This is a matter of as it reduces the pressure on deforestation, it is extremely beneficial. Carbon emissions are as high as 25% due to deforestation. These recycled fibres used in the production of paper are further converted into tea bags, carry bags, envelopes, books. The products that are produced with less value than conventional are called downcycling, in contrast to the word upcycling. [14] It uses less energy than the production of conventional paper. There is no use of harmful chlorine as an effluent.




A recent US government report reveals that NPE (Nonylphenol Ethoxylates), which is a harmful chemical that can possibly be released during washing, is found in fifty out of eighty clothes, resulting in NPE (Nonylphenol Ethoxylates). Creation of a toxin when mixed with bodies of water. It is one of the many compounds commonly found and shown to be hazardous in textile materials. Textile pollution and harmful effects are constantly increasing. [31-33] The critical point is focusing on textile waste management is much the same as inventing new products and technologies. In the modern era, sustainability is the key to running a company, particularly if the company is exporting. Discarded waste fabrics are now seen as a new resource and an opportunity for wealth.



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