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Paper technology turns old clothes into new fabrics

Swatches | April 1, 2022 | By:

Circulose pulp made from shredded clothing.

The textile industry is taking a page from the pulp and paper industry. Sweden-based Renewcell has developed a sustainable process that recycles waste textiles into a product called Circulose, whose name is the tip-off that it’s aimed at making fashion circular. The company has restarted a shuttered paper mill in Sweden to make it happen.

Shredded blue jean denim (left) and the Circulose pulp (right) that Renewcell makes from it. Photos: Renewcell

“We’re using basic pulp and papermaking technologies,” says Patrik Lundström, CEO at Renewcell. “We take cotton-rich textiles like jeans, T-shirts and bed linens, textiles that are over 90 percent cotton, and use them to produce a dissolving pulp. This pulp is then made into viscose fibers and spun into new fabrics that are used to make new clothes. It’s a drop-in product for the existing value stream. Our customers don’t have to change their existing processes much. And you don’t feel any difference between the recycled fabrics and new.”

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