When you wear the latest models of Levi’s, it’s likely that you’re wearing someone else’s old Levi’s: they’re made out of partly recycled recycled jeans. That’s a complete cycle: when these new pants are too old, people can recycle them into new materials to use for new jeans, with the same processing. This advanced technology comes from Renewcell, a Swedish startup.
For apparel giant Levis, the use of recycled fabrics is key to improving the sustainability of its product system. This is the result obtained after more than 2 years of cooperation between Levis and Renewcell. In a Levis product lifecycle statistics, Paul Dillinger, vice president of product development of Levi Strauss and Co. said: “The dominant factor is the ability to produce raw materials.”. Traditionally, growing cotton to produce raw materials cost up to 2500 liters of water to create a Levis jeans. To imagine, this is more than the total amount of water most sophisticated users use to wash jeans over its lifetime. By using a fabric made from recycled cotton, Levis can reduce water consumption, and also reduce carbon and chemical emissions to the environment.
Before that, it was not without fiber recycling technologies. But the efficiency of these technologies is not so good, because cutting cotton into smaller pieces will reduce the value of the material, Dillinger said: “They (old-style recycled materials) are often used as insulation, because they’re not the original high-quality fabrics anymore.”. But Renewcell’s technology restructures cotton fibers in a different way, resolving them, combining them with wood pulp and then pushing the mixture through very small nozzles to create longer, higher quality cotton fibers.
The output of this process is a material called “Circulose,” which is considered to be artificial silk instead of cotton, because the material has a different texture, the designers choose to make new jeans used in combination with organic cotton Levi Strauss is experimenting with ways to increase the Circulose ratio in each of its jeans, currently at 40%, and in 40 This percentage is half from recycled fabric, half of it is wood pulp. “We can launch products made from 100% recycled cotton. There will be many ways to make this material feel more like cotton, but a little more research is needed. ”
These new jeans are also designed to be easier to be recycled, such as stitches or brands, instead of cotton. Dillinger said: “You cannot throw anything into this system. They (the jeans) have to be designed for a whole cycle. ”. To test that possibility, Levis sent these new jeans back to Renewcell, and here they successfully recycled the pants into new materials.
The success of recycling second hand clothes is significant, because second hand clothes are redundant around the world. In the United States alone, 26 billion pounds of clothing are discarded each year. Mr. Dillinger also shared: “If we look at the new rules in the European Union, it can be seen that burying garments in the ground will gradually become illegal. In micro terms, the use of discarded clothing becomes more profitable than burying them. ”