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Textiles Wastes and Recycling Options

Farzana Alam Piya

01As such the global population is increasing, global waste is also raising day by day — Only textile waste has increased 811% since 1960 (EPA data), flushing out 1 million ton waste every year. According to reports, 2.01 Billion ton of solid waste was produced (where 242 million tons was plastic waste & 17 million ton was textile waste) in 2016, amounting to a footprint of 0.74 KG, per person a day.  It is assumed that annual waste generation would be increased by 70% from 2016 levels to 3.40 billion ton in 2050.

02To get rid of these huge amount of wastes, the only way is to recycle them. Recycling means converting wastes into reusable materials. The textile industry in particular, focuses on two major types of recycling: Pre-Consumer Recycling and Post-Consumer Recycling.

Pre-Consumer Waste: The Pre-consumer waste also known as Post-Industrial waste is obtained while the manufacturing process such as cutting, stitching or weaving is going on. It’s called Pre-Consumer because it didn’t reach any consumers. Pieces of fabric, scraps of plastic bottles collected from the manufacturing process is example of pre-consumer waste.

Post-Consumer Waste: The Post-Consumer waste is obtained after the product has been consumed by the consumers. This type of products are generally damaged, out-of-fashion, the owner does not require or decided to discard. It’s called Post-Consumer because the consumer has consumed the product. Old apparels, house Pieces of fabric, plastic bottles collected from home & restaurants are example of post-consumer waste.

03Why Recycling?

Recycling is benefitial both environmentally & economically.

Environmental Benefits

  • Through recycling, the amount of global wastes can be reduced as well as the pollution caused by the wastes.
  • As the raw materials (Textile & plastic wastes) are already dyed, the recycling process requires zero dye, zero chemical & almost zero water. The less amount of chemical is used, the manufacturing  process is more eco-friendly and worker friendly.
  • The manufacturing process is a quick & easy process consisiting of fewer steps. As a result, less energy is needed.

Economical Benefits

  • Wastes are used as the raw materials. So, no cost is needed for buying raw materials.
  • The raw materials (Textile & plastic wastes) are already dyed. As a result, zero dye, zero chemical & almost zero water is needed for the recycling process. It is saving dyeing, chemical & water cost.
  • The manufacturing process of “Textiles from Wastes” is comparetively an easy and quick process than the manufacturing process of virgin textiles. As a result, finished product is achieved within a short time. It saves time, both power & process cost.
  • Manufacturing cost for recycled yarn & products made from recycled yarn, is less than the manufacturing cost of virgin yarn & products made from virgin yarn. And so, more profit can be earned.
  • As people are being environment concerned day by day, the global demand for recycled apparel products is getting higher.

04Manufacturing Yarn from Fabric Waste:  Pre-Consumer and Post-Consumer fabrics can be converted into fibers by 2 main processes, depending on the type of fabric. Mechanical Process      & Chemical Process.

Mechanical Process of Manufacturing Yarn from Fabric Waste:  In Mechanical Process, cotton based fabrics are generally used. In this process, the fabric is converted into fibers through various methods such as cutting, shredding and carding. The fibers can be spun into yarns, which can be converted into woven, non-woven or knitted fabrics and can also be used for flocking to provide a decorative & soft finesse on other products. The finished products are used in fabricating garment lining, home textile upholstery, for insulating and sound absorption in automobiles, carpeting, toys etc.

0506Chemical Process of Manufacturing Yarn from Fabric Waste: In Chemical Process, the fabric is converted into fibers through various methods such as cutting, melting, extruding and carding. Generally, polyester and synthetic fabrics are used in this methods. First the garments are cut into small pieces, converted into granules and then are melted. Later the melted chips are spun into fibers. Finally, these fibers are converted into polyester yarn and polyester fabric. This fibers can also be used for rags, furniture stuffing & padding etc.

07 08Manufacturing Yarn from Plastic Waste:  The first step for manufacturing yarn from plastic waste is to collect the bottles and remove caps and labels from them, as the caps of bottles are made of a different kind of plastic than the bottles. Then separate the bottles according to their color. Clear bottles are used for producing white yarn, green bottles are used for producing green yarn and so on. Later the bottles are shred into tiny pieces, cleaned and dried. After that the shredded pieces of bottles are transformed into fibers using a machine named extruder where the plastic is heated and forced through tiny holes to create fibers. This fiber is fine, long & continuous. Next, the fibers are torn apart into short pieces, bailed and finally turned into yarn. The process of turning the fibers into yarn consists of carding, drawing and spinning. After that the yarn can be woven into fabric which completes the cycle from plastic to fabric.

09 10Global Scenario about Recycled Textiles

  • Global textile recycling market grew at a CAGR of around 19% during 2014-19. It is expected to reach $ 0.8 Billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 5.2% (2019-2026), according to report of Allied Market Research.
  • According to statistics, demand of various recycled yarn (recycled cotton, wool, polyester, nylon etc) is going to rise up to 50%-100% by 2016.
  • North America and Europe are the most lubricative market for recycled yarn, as people there are getting more conscious about environment day by day. In Europe most of the plastic wastes are recycled where more than 50% PET bottles are used to produce fiber.
  • Estonia (Northern Europe) based, a software company is trying to develop an online market place for garment waste to ensure the maximum utilization and better value.
  • At present Khaloom, Chindi, Kishco Group, Anandi Enterprises, Usha Yarns Ltd., Renewcell AB, Hyosung TNC Co. Ltd., Martex Fiber, Otto Garne, Leigh Fibers Inc. – are playing key role for producing recycled yarn.
  • Renowned brands around the world are recycling and upcycling the textile wastes into fabric such as -Beyond Retro, Patagonia, blonde gone rogue, Fabric For Freedom, /id/, RubyMoon, Zero Waste Daniel, Redone, Ecoalf etc.
  • Fashion brands such as — Girlfriend Collective, Batoko, Patagonia, Ellie Evans, Ecoalf, ADAY, Mara Hoffman, Gucci, Repainted  are recycling plastic bottles into fabric (polyester) and manufacturing swimsuit, sportswear, warm outwear, leggings, jackets etc.      

11Bangladesh’s Scenario about Recycled Textile

  • Annual garment wastes of Bangladesh is around 0.4 million ton which can be a business of more than US $4 billion.
  • Bangladesh is 10th among the major plastic waste contributor countries of the world. Here 3,000 ton of plastic waste is generated every day which results more than 1 million ton every year.
  • Simco Spinning and Textiles Ltd (Bhaluka, Mymensingh) is the only factory in Bangladesh, recycling garments wastes into textile. It is capable to produce 15 ton of yarn a day from cotton clips. US, Mexico, Spain, Italy and Turkey are its customers.
  • Recycling wastes into textiles can be a vital source for providing new opportunities, employment, Foreign Currency for Bangladesh as well as effective for the environment.
  • World Bank finances and advises on various solid waste management projects, including traditional loans, results-based financing, development policy financing, and technical advisory. Since 2000, it has committed over $4.7 billion to more than 340 solid waste management programs around the world, supported through valuable partnerships such as — Tokyo Development Learning Center, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Korean Green Growth Trust Fund, and the Global Partnership on Results-Based Approaches (GPRBA), International Solid Waste Association (ISWA).


To save the environment as well as human beings, textile industries around the world need to come forward and take necessary steps to recycle textile wastes & plastic wastes into innovative textile products. Besides being an economical solution for global waste management, it would open doors of new opportunities (employment, foreign currency, sustainability etc) next to us and promote sustainable textile industry.

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