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Benefits & Drawbacks to Recycled Cotton Fiber

Author: Rajesh Saha, Director, Rose Sweaters Ltd

Recycled cotton fiber refers to cotton fiber that has been collected, processed and re-spun from pre-consumer or post-consumer textile waste. The recycling process involves breaking down the existing cotton fabric into individual fibers, cleaning and blending them, and then spinning them into new yarn or fabric. The use of recycled cotton fiber helps to reduce waste in the textile industry, conserve natural resources such as water, and lower the environmental impact of cotton production.


-Numerous low-grade items, including insulation, mop heads, rags, and stuffing, can be made from recycled cotton.

-Many things can be saved from the landfill through the recycling process. The Council for Textile Recycling estimates that there are 25 billion pounds of textile waste generated annually.

-Using a product that has already undergone processing reduces the amount of energy, water, and color used. By counteracting the creation of new materials, savings are made. The yarns are already dyed, since recycled cotton yarns are often made from pre-consumer textile remnants that have been sorted by color.

-Utilizing current materials can help offset some of the savings in CO2 and fossil fuel emissions. However, some of these savings may be diminished or cancelled out by the gathering, processing, and shipping of cotton scraps or clothing.


-Cotton cannot be continuously recycled because it needs to be combined with other fibers to create new yarn that is strong and durable.

-Depending on the final use, recycled cotton will have a different composition. The properties of the yarn and fabric, such as evenness, strength, and uniformity, will be affected by any amount of recycled material.

-Cost-wise, recycled yarn may be prohibitive because it is typically more expensive than standard, virgin cotton yarn.

-For ginned, virgin cotton, testing equipment is designed. Due to variations in fiber packing and orientation, test results can occasionally be off.

-For recycled cotton, the chance of contamination by other fibers is much higher. When establishing the recycled supply chain, consideration should be given to stitching, sewing thread, and small amounts of spandex.

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