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Recycled fibers at Simons

These are fibres obtained by transforming waste that has been meticulously sorted and processed so that it can be reused for making new clothing and, therefore, upgraded.

In the textile field, waste is collected at two stages in a garment's life cycle:

- Post-industrial,
or the leftover yarn and fabric scraps resulting from textile production

- Post-consumer,
or garments, upholstery fabric, napkins, and other textile materials that have reached the end of their life

By using reusable products and reducing waste, recycling is one of the best solutions for countering the disposal of waste by landfill or incineration.

Waste's Environmental Impact

Do you know how many years it takes to break down the most common waste found in our ecosystems?1

Fishing Nets

Around 600 years

Plastic (Bottles, bags, straws)

From 450 to 1,000 years

Polyester

Around 200 years

Rubber

Between 50 and 80 years

Nylon

Between 30 and 40 years

Acrylic

Doesn't decompose in a human time frame

Besides taking many years to break down, the process of decomposing these materials is far from without its consequences. In fact, most waste releases methane and carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and contaminates the surrounding water and soil with toxic substances. In addition to landfills, waterways and beaches are the most affected by pollution. Every year, it's estimated that 8 million metric tons of plastic are dumped into the oceans. 2

Recycled Polyester

Conventional polyester is the most utilized fibre in the clothing industry. Like plastic, it's made of a synthetic material sourced from fossil-based resources. Recycled polyester is an alternative that helps eliminate the need for new petroleum and keep plastic waste from accumulating in our environment.
After being collected and sorted, the plastic waste is thoroughly washed and treated. These bits of plastic are then melted and turned into fibres. This preserves the quality of the material and allows the fabric to be recycled an infinite number of times.

Sources: HIGG MSI3 comparing GRS-certified, mechanically recycled polyester to conventional polyester

REPREVE® Recycled Polyester

REPREVE®, a trademarked type of recycled polyester introduced by US company Unifi, is making a name for itself in the fashion world with its premium quality fibres derived from recycled plastic bottles.

REPREVE® fibres meet the rigorous environmental criteria of the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®, which guarantees that a textile article has been tested for harmful chemicals and that it has been manufactured sustainably under working conditions that respect the environment and workers. These fibres also meet the requirements of the Global Recycled Standard (GRS), which aims to get companies to use more recycled content in their products7.

Sort, clean, melt down, cut, spin, weave—it takes more than a little work to go from waste to garment! Today, over 30 billion plastic bottles destined for landfills have been diverted and transformed thanks to Unifi's REPREVE® program8.

Recycled Nylon

Frequently found in clothing, nylon is also frequently found in our seas and oceans. Every year, it's estimated that roughly 600,000 metric tons of fishing equipment, including nylon nets, are discarded into them. This represents 10% of the debris found in our bodies of water.4

Although more technical and expensive than transforming plastic waste, nylon recycling is possible and has excellent environmental benefits.

- Fishing nets
- Pantyhose
- Post-industrial fabric scraps
- Reclaimed clothing

Source: HIGG MSI3 comparing GRS-certified, mechanically recycled nylon to conventional nylon

Included in the scraps used to make recycled nylon products are:

REPREVE® Recycled Nylon

Nylon, like polyester, cannot be made from recycled plastic. To create REPREVE® recycled nylon, Unifi uses post-industrial (also called pre-consumer) nylon scraps from their own conventional nylon manufacturing. Doing so saves energy and resources and results in a high quality, high performance fibre. REPREVE® recycled nylon fibres are great for making swimwear and lingerie because they add extra strength to the fabric.

REPREVE® fibres meet the rigorous environmental criteria of the STANDARD 100 by OEKO-TEX®, which guarantees that a textile article has been tested for harmful chemicals and that it has been manufactured sustainably under working conditions that respect the environment and workers.

ECONYL® Recycled Nylon

ECONYL® recycled nylon is a product of Italian company Aquafil, which specializes in the production of polyamide. It is entirely made from reprocessed nylon scraps found in oceans and landfills, such as post-industrial fabric scraps, carpeting, and ghost nets.

The Healthy Seas foundation and ghost fishing

Fishing nets are one of the main sources for ECONYL® recycled nylon. Aquafil Group works closely with the fishing industry and has seen first-hand the devastating effects that ghost nets have on the environment. That's why Aquafil created Healthy Seas in 2013 to remove waste that endangers marine ecosystems from our seas and oceans. Ghost nets and other litter are collected by volunteer divers from the non-profit Ghost Diving. The waste is then cleaned, sorted, and sent to reprocessing plants7.

The regeneration and scrap purification process produces ECONYL® recycled nylon, which has the same quality and strength as virgin nylon derived directly from oil extraction.

For every ton of ECONYL® recycled nylon produced, 7 barrels of oil are saved and 5.7 metric tons of CO2 emissions are avoided. Choosing ECONYL® nylon reduces the overall environmental impact by an estimated 80% compared to conventional nylon8.

Recycled Cotton

This popular natural fibre is also one that can be recycled! Recycled cotton gives textile scraps a second life. By reusing reclaimed clothing, cotton scraps, and other post-industrial and post-consumer waste to compensate for the production of new materials, the amount of water, energy, and dye used is massively reduced.

Sources: HIGG MSI3 comparing recycled cotton to conventional cotton

Recycled Wools

Wool is a material that's cherished and highly sought after by consumers. In order to enjoy its thermal properties and sophistication while simultaneously reducing the environmental impact linked to its production, be sure to select pieces made of recycled wool fibres such as cashmere or lambswool.

In addition to giving materials a second life, this alternative helps eliminate the carbon emissions linked to animal farming.

As wool is a durable and high-quality material, the clothing made out of it can last a long time. In fact, many studies5 show that wool garments stay in our wardrobes longer than clothing made of other materials and that they are more likely to be recycled at the end of their life.6 According to the International Wool Textile Organization, wool items account for 5% of the total weight of consumer clothing donations. So keep your well-loved wool pieces for years, and think about donating them to someone else when the time comes!

Source: HIGG MSI3 comparing GRS-certified recycled wool derived from textile scraps with Australian virgin wool

Relatively new in the textile market, TENCELTM Lyocell fibres are produced with innovative REFIBRATM technology, which involves upcycling cotton scraps in addition to wood pulp during the manufacturing process.

It should be noted that the wood pulp used to produce this material comes entirely from certified and controlled sources. Additionally, TENCELTM Lyocell is made using a closed-loop production process, meaning that the water and solvents are reused every time. This way, nothing is wasted, contaminated, or thrown away!

TENCELTM Lyocell with REFIBRATM Technology

REFIBRA TENCEL lyocell environmental impact

Sources: HIGG MSI3 comparing TENCELTM Lyocell to conventional lyocell

Shop the Products for This Standard

Vision Green Background

Sources:
1 https://www.thebalancesmb.com/how-long-does-it-take-garbage-to-decompose-2878033#glass

2 https://oceanconservancy.org/trash-free-seas/plastics-in-the-ocean/

3 These results were calculated with the help of the Higg Materials Sustainability Index (Higg MSI) developed by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC). The Higg MSI analyzes the impact of materials over their entire life cycle (up until the materials are ready to be assembled into a product). The Higg MSI scores or the calculations of percentages provided here represent only one production step within the scope of the Higg MSI (for example, fibres or raw materials). They do not provide an overall view of the impacts involved in the production of materials. The SAC does not verify the results of users' custom materials. (Higg Materials Sustainability Index, 2020) https://msi.higg.org/page/msi-home

4 https://www.unenvironment.org/news-and-stories/story/how-banish-ghosts-dead-fishing-gear-our-seas

5 http://www.iwto.org/re-use-and-recycling /

6 Wool items account for 5% of the total weight of consumer clothing donations, according to the International Wool Textile Organization (http://www.iwto.org/)