Win-Win Textiles recommends moving completely away from conventional cotton as soon as possible. We recommend focusing on Better Cotton from the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI), as this is likely to show the most stable prices over time, and there is plenty of cotton under this standard. Organic cotton under e.g. GOTS, USDA NOP, IFOAM and OCA and responsible concepts such as Fairtrade, Cotton made in Africa (CmiA), Responsible Brazilian Cotton (ABR), Monsanto Better Farming (myBMP) and Cleaner Cotton are all highly recommendable concepts. These are the best of virgin cotton from a sustainability viewpoint and will be summarised as preferred cotton in the following sections. However, they are all niche concepts with low output, and the prices are likely to hike as demand increases. The same accounts for recycled cotton, although this remains the most sustainable cotton option and the best solution for a true circular economy. Therefore, we will focus on Better Cotton, organic cotton and recycled cotton in the following sections.
Win-Win Textiles offers supply chains in conformity with these recommendations both in Portugal and India. Besides this, we recommend brands to implement a reduction of the use of virgin cotton in their material strategies. We offer interesting recycling concepts and will have increased capacity and better prices for recycled cotton towards the end of 2020. Furthermore, we recommend examining if brands can avoid cotton by using more linen, hemp, kapok or other cellulose fibres. By adding a share of these preferred fibres to fabrics, this will limit the use of virgin cotton. Six countries – India, China, USA, Brazil, Pakistan and Uzbekistan – collectively account for approximately 80% of the global cotton production. Other key production regions include Australia, Greece, Turkey, Mexico and Argentina. Preferred cotton was grown throughout 31 countries in 2018-19. Around 95% of all preferred cotton was grown in 10 countries: Brazil, Pakistan, China, India, USA, Côte d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso, Greece, Cameroon and Australia. The biggest Better Cotton producer was India, followed by Pakistan, Mozambique and China. India is also the biggest producer of organic cotton with 51%, followed by China, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey.
The Sustainable Development Goals
When changing to more sustainable cotton concepts, brands will be contributing to the Sustainable Development Goals:
Textile Exchange has related the use of organic cotton to the Sustainable Development Goals in this way:
Cotton is grown in cycles of roughly six months. The majority of cotton is planted in spring and harvested from early autumn onwards. Most cotton seeds come from the species Gossypium Hirsutum, but seeds can also be derived from genetically modified (GM) varieties known as Bt cotton, which produces its own insecticide. Cotton is grown under a variety of conditions, thus, depending on the region, cotton is either irrigated (water from local water sources) or rain fed (watered directly by rain water). Irrigation is used in regions of China, Uzbekistan and in South-West USA, whereas farmers in Africa and India largely farm rain-fed cotton. Once ready to be harvested, the cotton is either machine-picked or hand-picked and then put through ginning, a process that removes the cotton seeds, pests, dirt and moisture from the cotton. It is then mixed, carded or combed, drawn, roved and finally ready to be spun into yarn.
- Environmental – Better Cotton is produced in a way that minimises the negative environmental impacts of cotton production. This includes reducing fertiliser and pesticide use, improving water efficiency and caring for the soil and natural habitats.
- Social – BCI farmers adhere to International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions regarding labour standards and promote decent working conditions, which includes prohibiting forced and child labour and the discrimination of workers, promoting freedom of association and collective bargaining, as well as encouraging improved health and safety conditions.
- Economic – BCI aims to improve farmer livelihoods and their economic development by improving yields, reducing growing costs and improving long-term soil quality.
Organic cotton differs in its production to conventional cotton as it:
- Prohibits the use of toxic and persistent pesticides or synthetic fertilisers and genetically modified seeds (GM).
- Encourages the use of rain-fed irrigation.
The benefits of this approach include the reduction of environmental impacts that are commonly associated with the production of conventional cotton, such as lower water, GHG emissions and chemical use. Organic farmers are required to be certified by an accredited independent organisation such as the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), EU Regulation 834/2007, USDA NOP (USA) or Japanese Agricultural Standard (JAS) regulation. This certification demonstrates that the farmer is practicing organic principles such as not using synthetic pesticides or fertilisers. There are also several voluntary ‘chain of custody’ organic cotton certification schemes/standards such as the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and Textile Exchange’s Organic Content Standard (OCS), which ensure that organic cotton is tracked and handled correctly throughout the supply chain and verify the presence of organic cotton in the final product. GOTS furthermore includes social requirements and covers the entire supply chain.
Pre-consumer textile waste is generated from by-product materials from the textile, fibre and cotton industries. Mostly, it is cutting waste from garment production. Post-consumer textile waste consists of any cotton garment or household textile that would otherwise end up in landfill or be incinerated. Both waste streams can be mechanically or chemically recycled.
- Mechanical recycling: The cotton waste generated from both source streams is initially separated according to colour and fibre/fabric type. It is mechanically shredded into fibre, then carded to clean and mix the fibres, so they can be spun into yarns and woven into new fabrics. Mechanically recycled cotton has to be blended with virgin fibres during spinning to create a core that can hold the shorter fibres of recycled cotton, which is a result of the shredding process. The virgin fibres can be polyester, conventional or organic cotton, other cellulose or regenerated cellulosic fibres to maintain the fibre quality. Win-Win Textiles has a wide range of fabrics available with recycled cotton and the quality level is increasing. A number of brands have integrated recycled cotton in fabrics such as denim and trims. As chemical recycling is yet to be scaled and made readily available, mechanically recycled cotton is the most sustainable cotton option and within the spirit of a circular economy.
- Chemical recycling: There is a lot of research and investment in chemical cotton recycling using cotton waste as raw material, which is processed into a dissolving pulp. The dissolving pulp can then be extruded into regenerated cellulosic fibres. Please note that chemically recycled cotton is also mentioned in the chapter on regenerated cellulosic fibres, since the result is a regenerated cellulosic fibre rather than a cotton fibre. Lenzing™ uses 30-40% of chemically recycled cotton from pre-consumer waste in the fibre REFIBRA™.
To ensure product integrity, recycled cotton is often independently certified by either the Global Recycled Standard (GRS), Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) or Recycled Content Certification (RCC) standards.
As part of our recycled cotton concept, we can make paper for hang tags, notebooks, paper bags or other items out of recycled cotton. This is a chemical process in which we can even make white paper from black cotton waste because the colour can be removed. As a small exciting project, we produce hang tags with flower seeds, so that the consumer will be able to burry the hang tag in the garden and get a flower instead.
Win-Win Textiles has several qualities of reused cotton in our fabric store under Fabrics & Materials. You can order swatches free of charge. This is a concept of using raw fibres, which derive from waste in yarn spinneries. They are collected and spun into new good yarn. This is not a recycling concept, as the fibres have not gone through a processing cycle, so we have no issues with fibre lengths and can produce from 100% reused cotton and process normally as virgin fibres.
At Win-Win Textiles we work with two concepts of undyed cotton, which is saving the majority of the water, energy and chemicals from the processing of textiles.
Undyed raw cotton
This is a concept in which we are using the best organic cotton yarns, which can be under the GOTS certification, and create fabrics that receive a finishing treatment without any dyeing. The fabric has the colour of raw cotton. The colour can vary slightly from production to production, and there can be significant differences in the raw colour of cotton from country to country. We use the same source for the same product to minimise variations from season to season.
This concept is becoming popular, and we are combining the raw cotton colour with natural dyes developed from plants when customers would like more variety, but still stay within a similar philosophy.
You can read about these natural dyes here.
Cotton grown naturally in colours
Organic cotton grown naturally in different colours can be traced back more than 4,000 years and most likely originates from South America. White cotton was preferred due to the longer fibres and the fact that it was easier to process and dye. However, the original cotton colours were off-white, brown, green, yellow and purple.
At commercial level, Win-Win Textiles offers the colours off-white, brown and green. No chemicals or synthetics products are used in the growing and manufacturing processes of this organic cotton grown in natural colours. The seeds are free from genetic engineering, and we can produce under the GOTS standards and make organic claims through the standards of Textile Exchange.
This cotton concept is pure and clean. The fabrics are finished only through mechanical processing and simple washing to remove impurities and vegetals fats. Since the final product is free from any dyes and chemicals, there are – besides the obvious environmental benefits – benefits to human life. The health of workers is not influenced, and consumers will buy a product that is both hypoallergenic and protects the skin from allergies, rashes and itching.
Cotton is the most widespread lucrative non-food crop in the world and by far the most frequently used clothing fibre. It is estimated that half of all textiles are made of cotton. According to the WWF, cotton production provides incomes to more than 250 million people globally, with estimates suggesting that 7% of all labour in developing countries is involved in the cotton industry. Approximately 90% of farmers in developing countries grow cotton on less than two hectares (equivalent to the size of two football pitches) of land. Despite providing employment to so many, conventional cotton is associated with a wide range of social and environmental sustainability issues.
Conventional cotton is used extensively in the clothing and home textile industry and is readily available, making integration straightforward within the supply chain. Conventional cotton is a traded commodity and is not certified. Claims cannot be made, as traceability back to field of the fibre (such as country of origin) cannot be verified. The origin of conventional cotton can be extremely difficult to trace. The complex nature of the cotton supply chain means that transparency is particularly limited.
There are many factors that keep the cost of conventional cotton low. Good availability of large volumes of cotton traded globally, supported by subsidies and quotas that encourage farmers to choose cotton as a crop. Conventional cotton has undergone notable price fluctuations, which are caused by instabilities in the cost of the inputs for cotton such as fertilisers and insecticides, due to changes in oil price and crop shortages, also caused by the weather affecting the amount and quality of cotton that is grown and placed on the market.
According to the 2020 Cotton Ranking Report by WWF, PAN and Solidaridad, 21% (*TE 25%) of all cotton produced is categorised as more sustainable; however, only 25% of that is purchased as sustainable cotton. The rest is sold as conventional cotton. This means that only a little above 5% of all cotton in the world is sold as more sustainable. If we break this up by standards, BCI, which represents around 20% of all cotton, has an uptake of only 21% ((*TE 22%) 52% Better Cotton, 48% BCI equivalents such as ABRAPA, CmiA and myBMP). Organic cotton represents only around 0,7% (*TE 0.93%) of all cotton with an uptake estimated at 70-80%, which is good.
* = % according to The Organic Cotton Report 2020 made by Textile Exchange covering the 2018/2019 crop.
BCI’s intention is to globally raise the sustainability standard of cotton production whilst making it available in large volumes to mainstream retailers. Brands and retailers must be BCI members to make (on-product) claims about their Better Cotton usage. Better Cotton availability is becoming much more widespread, and BCI publishes a list of mills and garment manufacturers that can source Better Cotton. As such, integration of Better Cotton is improving. Better Cotton can also be processed/blended with conventional cotton and does not need to be segregated in yarn production.
The BCI system tracks volumes (Better Cotton Claim Units – BCCUs) rather than physical Better Cotton through the supply chain. Although the volume of Better Cotton sourced and sold by each supplier is traced, physical Better Cotton is not tracked beyond the ginner. This allows Better Cotton to be processed alongside conventional cotton at the mill (using a ‘mass balance’ approach). This means that a finished product can be a mix of both Better Cotton and conventional cotton supply chain routes.
BCI is a non-premium based system of producing more sustainable cotton. Farmers’ incomes improve by reducing costs at farm level through decreasing the amounts of inputs (pesticides, water and fertilisers) and increasing yields and quality, rather than being paid a price premium for the cotton. As a result, the cost of BCI cotton should be comparable to conventional cotton. BCI relies on membership fees paid by brands and retailers based on cotton lint usage and membership type. These fees can then be separately budgeted for or factored into the final cost of a garment and are lower when compared to other fibres such as organic cotton.
Organic cotton is currently available in small volumes and therefore may prove difficult to source, depending on production regions. The global organic cotton market is forecast to continue to grow in the coming years. Most of the growth can be attributed to increased market demand from brands and retailers, who are now starting to set specific sustainable cotton targets as well as improving supply chain transparency across the textile supply chain. As a result, organic cotton is slowly becoming more readily available in the marketplace.
Organic cotton is not overseen by a single organisation such as the Better Cotton Initiative (BCI). Multiple stakeholders are involved independently. Many suppliers (such as garment manufacturers and fabric mills) are familiar with organic cotton; however, due to the level of certification and chain of custody requirements, it can make sourcing organic cotton more resource intensive. This is because it requires a detailed paperwork trail through each stage of the supply chain. Suppliers’ manufacturing processes and procedures will need to be certified. This will limit the number of suppliers able to supply certified organic cotton, but Win-Win Textiles offers organic cotton both in India and Portugal and can support you with the custody requirements.
Organic cotton product claims can be made where it is independently certified by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) or Organic Content Standard (OCS). Even when considering its higher cost and the necessary investment in infrastructure, resources to track certifications and establish new sourcing channels, organic cotton certification is relatively well known amongst consumers. Thus, it offers a good means of communicating the positive environmental and sustainability credentials on a product.
Cotton certified by GOTS or OCS is traceable, meaning it is possible to know where the purchased cotton was grown. This helps brands and retailers guarantee they are not sourcing cotton from countries, where issues such as forced and child labour in the cotton harvest have been identified. Although organic cotton does not guarantee a set price, depending on the region, farmers can achieve a price premium with average cost mark-ups ranging from 5-20% compared to conventional cotton. However, when purchasing large volumes, this mark-up can be considerably reduced.
Currently, recycled cotton is not widely available, in part due to the technological challenges associated with the recycling process. However, new technology developers are bringing fibre to fibre chemical based recycling systems for post-consumer waste to the market. A number of large brands and retailers are using the materials collected through in-store take-back schemes to recycle them into new products. It is believed that cotton recycling will become increasingly scalable as advancements in cotton recycling technology become more efficient.
Recycled cotton is a developing market and is dependent on its availability, volumes and the familiarity suppliers have with sourcing it. Due to quality issues often associated with the short staple fibres of mechanically recycled cotton, it is commonly integrated as a blended fibre. Recycled content certification offers good communication potential. There are a number of standards on the market which help to verify that the product purchased contains recycled content. These include the Global Recycled Standard (GRS), Recycled Claim Standard (RCS) and the Recycled Content Certification (RCC), which offer the ability to communicate the product’s recycled content on finished products.
Recycled cotton has very strong sustainability credentials and communication potential; as a result it is being adopted by a number of brands. Win-Win Textiles can make you one of the early adopters of recycled cotton within your supply chain. GRS, RCS and RCC standards are based on a tracking and tracing principle, which uses a transaction certificate based system similar to organic certification to ensure the highest level of product integrity. This acts as a monitoring and controlling mechanism throughout the supply chain. Certified recycled cotton remains marginally more expensive than conventional cotton. This is mostly due to limited availability and the costs incurred in gaining certification.
There are many problems with conventional cotton. When brands use conventional cotton, they are likely to contribute to modern slavery, child labour, poverty, non-registered employment, pollution and health problems, excessive water usage, genetic modification of seeds and irresponsible production methods.
During growing, cotton plants consume approximately 10,700 m3 of water per tonne of fibre. One tonne of fibre is equivalent to making over 6,660 t-shirts. By comparison, a synthetic fibre such as conventional polyester consumes approximately 99% less water (84.1 m3 per tonne of fibre). The amount of water required for cotton production is particularly significant given that more than half of global cotton production happens in regions of high or extremely high water stress. Significant amounts of water are also used in the wet-processing stages of garment production, which includes dyeing, finishing and printing.
In many regions of the world, conventional cotton production relies heavily on petrochemical derived synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. These chemicals are energy intensive to produce, and the embedded carbon in these fertilisers and pesticides during their manufacture contributes significantly to cotton’s carbon footprint. Farmers use synthetic pesticides and nitrogen fertilisers to maximise yields, but there are a number of negative impacts associated with their heavy use. These include biodiversity loss, soil erosion and eutrophication, a process where fertiliser run off from land into surrounding waterways causes excessive algae growth, impacting on aquatic life by reducing the oxygen level in the water. The use of these chemicals not only impacts the environment, but can also affect the health of local workers and communities.
The wet-processing stages of cotton manufacturing use chemicals during the dyeing, finishing and printing process. Polluted water, if not properly treated before being discharged into the local water course, can damage the environment and pollute sources of drinking water. Cotton production and land use is significant; 2.4% of the world’s available crop land is planted with cotton, land that would otherwise be used for food crops. The global nature of cotton production means it is grown under a variety of conditions, and therefore, depending on the region, cotton yields vary. Cotton picking is a labour intensive process and poorly regulated. In some regions of the world, the use of forced and child labour has been widely publicised and continues to be an area of concern. The impact of cotton farming is further increased due to the intense use of chemicals such as pesticides and fertilisers that workers are exposed to. These concerns extend to the ginning process, which can release harmful dust that can be inhaled by unprotected workers.
Better Cotton is produced by farmers who use water efficiently and recognise the need to conserve water usage. Water management practices optimise water usage and do not cause adverse effects on groundwater or water bodies. Better Cotton’s water footprint is approximately 21% lower when compared to producing one tonne of conventional cotton (8,804 m3 compared to 11,244 m3). BCI focuses on minimising the use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides which inherently have a high carbon footprint. This contributes to reducing emissions associated with Better Cotton’s production. Better Cotton has a carbon footprint approximately 9% lower per one tonne of fibre than conventional cotton for production and processing (11,970 kgCO2e compared to 13,210 kgCO2e). Although the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers are allowed under the BCI guidelines, farmers are taught and encouraged to limit their use. This is achieved through integrated pest management (encouraging beneficial insects) and the use of practices that minimise the potential harmful effects of pesticides. This contributes to reducing the toxicity of Better Cotton. Better Cotton accounts for 22% of global cotton production, and in 2019, average yields are comparable to conventional cotton. Cotton workers’ conditions and fair incomes are part of the core principles of BCI, which promotes ILO standards in its BCI Production Principles. Cotton production under the scheme is independently verified with training provided to farmers in sustainable farming practices. This notably improves the ethical credentials of Better Cotton compared to conventional cotton.
Although cotton is a water intensive crop, the majority of organic cotton produced is rain-fed (watered directly by rain water) or partially irrigated. As a key producer of organic cotton, many regions in India produce rain-fed cotton, which reduces organic cotton’s water footprint by an estimated 36% per tonne of fibre compared to conventional cotton (7,164 m3 compared to 11,244 m3). Due to sustainable soil management practices such as organic composting, water retention in organic soil is often higher than conventional cotton farming. Therefore, the demand for water is lowered, and the crop is better protected in dry conditions.
By eliminating the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, the carbon footprint of organic cotton is significantly reduced. Organic cotton has approximately a 29% lower carbon footprint per tonne of fibre than conventional cotton for production and processing (9,340 kgCO2e compared to 13,210 kgCO2e). As organic cotton does not rely on the use of synthetic pesticides and fertilisers, it encourages biodiversity. This significantly reduces the toxicity of organic cotton and decreases soil erosion and nutrient leaching. Fibre yield for organic cotton can differ significantly from region to region and is reliant on soil fertility, water availability, susceptibility to pests as well as differing farming practices. Organic cotton yields are similar to conventional cotton; however, organic cotton farming supports practices that prevent soil erosion such as crop rotation, mixed-cropping systems and organic fertilisers. This can mean that land used for organic cotton cultivation can also support other crops. Although no chemical pesticides or synthetic fertilisers are used on organic cotton crops, residues may still be found for the first three years after land is converted. Farms, if certified to the EU and US regulation, are allowed to sell their cotton as ‘cotton in conversion’.
Organic cotton production is often less reliant on machinery than conventional cotton, making it sometimes more labour intensive. However, organic farmers are often organised in production groups supported by Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) such as Fairtrade. Many of them have social programmes to improve gender equality, ceasing of child and forced labour and promote leadership and financial security. Health and safety standards are also improved as workers do not come into close contact with synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. Beyond the farm level, chain of custody standards such as GOTS and OCS set requirements for the transfer and claims of organic content. Standards such as GOTS also go one step further to set social and environmental standards for suppliers e.g., spinners through to garment manufacturers and prohibit the use of genetically modified cotton crops. For example, GOTS labour standard requirements adhere to the International Labour Organization (ILO) conventions regarding labour standards and promote decent working conditions. This includes prohibiting forced and child labour and the discrimination of workers, freedom of association, collective bargaining as well as encouraging improved health and safety conditions.
Recycled cotton’s environmental benefits are due to it being a recycled material, re-using a resource which was previously considered waste, and closing the loop to a circular economy. Recycled cotton avoids repeating the environmental and social impacts associated with the production of cotton in its previous life. Minimal water is used during the mechanical cotton recycling process. As a waste material, the water intensity associated with conventional cotton growth and production is avoided. Although it is a highly mechanised process, recycled cotton avoids any further use of synthetic fertilisers and pesticides. As such, recycled cotton’s carbon footprint is reduced. At this time, no industry data is available on the water and carbon footprint of recycled cotton. No pesticides or fertilisers are used in the production of recycled cotton compared to conventional cotton farming. Currently, the recycling process is mechanical rather than chemical, meaning no hazardous chemicals are used in the production of mechanically recycled cotton. However, as new developments of chemical separation and recycling are being tested and scaled, we need to keep the impact of the water, energy and chemicals used in mind. Land use during the manufacture of recycled cotton is negligible. Currently, the process of sorting post-consumer textiles is still often undertaken manually. There are a number of factors to consider when deciding whether a garment is suitable for re-use or recycling such as fibre composition and quality. However, once segregated, the processing of recycled cotton is highly mechanised and not labour intensive.
Organic cotton is already available as pre- and post-consumer waste, but in limited volume. At this point, it is not possible, even with controlled input, to create recycled cotton products blended with virgin organic cotton under the GOTS standard, as the standard does not take this product variety into consideration. Win-Win Textiles can offer recycled cotton products under the OEKO-TEX 100 standard as well as the recycled claim standards of Textile Exchange as previously mentioned.
Other Virgin Cotton Initiatives
There are several multi stakeholder initiatives accelerating the transition from conventional to preferred cotton. A few examples are the following:
- Chetna Coalition (ChetCo) is piloting a new, collaborative sourcing model for ethical fashion since 2013. In 2019, the initiative published its first Chetna Coalition Brand Impact Report.
- Cotton 2040, founded in 2016, is a platform sharing the vision to accelerate progress and maximise the impact of currently existing sustainable cotton initiatives. Since 2016, it has brought together leading international brands and retailers, sustainable cotton standards and other stakeholders across the value chain.
- CottonConnect, founded in 2009, is an enterprise aiming to transform the cotton industry for good by e.g. training cotton farmers more environmentally friendly farming methods.
- Soil Health Institute (SHI), a nonprofit organization based in the USA, launched “Healthy Soils for Sustainable Cotton” in 2019, a collaborative project to help USA cotton farmers increase their soil health.
- Organic Cotton Accelerator (OCA) is a multi-stakeholder initiative founded in 2016 with the aim to build a prosperous organic cotton sector, which benefits everyone — from farmer to consumer.
Commitments to preferred cotton
There are several multi stakeholder commitments with fixed targets to increase the share of preferred cotton such as the German Partnership for Sustainable Textiles, the 2025 Sustainable Cotton Challenge or Cotton 2040. Companies that signed the Uzbek Cotton Pledge or the Turkmen Cotton Pledge are committed to end the practice of forced labour in the respective country as per May 2020. Last, but not least, 90 companies representing 12.5% of the global fashion industry have signed the Circular Fashion System Commitment in July 2019. The project by the Global Fashion Agenda commits the companies to take action on one or more of four immediate action points — one being to increase the use of post-consumer recycled fibers such as recycled cotton.
Recycled Cotton by Valérius 360°
Valérius 360° is a Portuguese project, which initiated production in November of 2020. Win-Win Textiles has formed a commercial partnership with the group and offers garments made of the yarns. The entire production capacity of 6.500kgs/day of new yarn is processed into garments within the group. The facilities contain three production lines and will provide NE30-36 open-end yarns with good pilling properties and a high quality level. The only virgin input is certified organic cotton, Lyocell and REFIBRE™ by Lenzing™ and SeaCell™ by Smartfiber AG.
We offer brands to process cutting waste from their production partners and make new yarns and garments by adding approximately 50% virgin certified fibres. We handle projects where the cutting waste is collected and shipped to the recycling facilities in Portugal.
Request more information through the contact form on this site. The solutions are available at scale – below some impressions from the production site.
Other Recycled Cotton Initiatives
- Circular Systems Texloop: Texloop™ recycles pre-consumer and post-consumer cotton into high-value materials through a mechanical and hydrothermal process. The result is e.g. a 50% recycled and 50% organic cotton fabric.
- Geetanjali Woolens, founded in the 1980s, is GRS-certified and has been recycling post-consumer used clothing for many years.
- Giotex is a USA based company offering GRS and RCS certified recycled cotton yarns and fabrics from pre-consumer feedstock.
- Hilaturas Ferre recycles cotton waste since 1947. Its RECOVER fibers and yarns consist of 100% recycled fibers. These yarns contain a high percentage of mechanically recycled cotton, which is blended with recycled polyester from PET bottles.
- Saentis launched RCO100 in 2016. RCO100 products are made from 100% pre-consumer recycled cotton yarns without blending.
- Takihyo’s Circular System was launched in 2019 in Japan. It consists of two projects: mechanically recycled pre/post-consumer cotton denims in collaboration with The New Denim Project (TNDP) and the No Waste project that mechanically recycles pre/post-consumer natural fibre-based materials in Thailand.
- The WestPoint Home Hospitality Team recognized the huge circular opportunity in the hospitality industry where most of the products are white, and many are 100% cotton. They have started to take back old sheets and towels for recycling.
Circular economy initiatives
According to the Ellen MayArthur Foundation, 25% of used clothes are collected, but less than 1% of all clothing is recycled back into apparel. At the same time, around 48 million mt of clothes are disposed annually, with around 75% of them landfilled or incinerated. As the global textile production is continuously growing, the concept of a circular economy is the only solution to satisfy the demand sustainably.
The following initiatives support the transition from a linear to a circular fashion industry with different measures: Accelerating Circularity, Circle Economy’s Circle Textile Program, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s initiative Make Fashion Circular, Fashion for Good, Fashion Positive, Global Fashion Agenda and Textile Exchange.