Innovation That Matters

| Photo source The Earthshot Prize

Is circular polycotton clothing the cure for fast fashion’s woes?

Fashion & Beauty

A startup is using its proprietary hydrothermal process to recycle polycotton blends


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Spotted: It’s estimated that just one per cent of clothes are recycled, with blended fabrics and textile items often proving too difficult to break down and repurpose. Typically, any attempt to separate polycotton fabrics that include materials like polyester into its component fibres has required the destruction of one of the fibres. This has meant that repurposing old or used polycotton fabrics inevitably resulted in half of the material going to waste. Looking to revolutionise the polycotton recycling process is Circ, with its novel hydrothermal process that allows the fibres to be separated and then repurposed for textiles that are as good as new.  

Circ’s system relies upon a three-step process. First, fabrics are responsibly sourced, before being sorted and resized ready for hydrothermal processing. Next, the company uses responsible chemistry, water, and pressure to separate synthetic fibres from natural ones. Finally, each output can then be spun into fibres that are ‘like new’ and ready to be used by fashion brands. This technology means that mixed-fibre textiles can be recycled again and again. 

This reprocessing is only one part of the solution in Circ’s eyes. The current culture in the fashion industry is plainly unsustainable, with clothes generally only worn 7-10 times before they are discarded. This is the focus of Circ’s wider goal: to change the global outlook on fashion, with a focus on making clothes that last long-term and can be repurposed rather than going to waste. 

Global brands need to invest in these kinds of technologies to help them have an impact, and luckily companies like Zara and Vivobarefoot have already seen the huge potential in Circ. But they aren’t alone, as Circ was also selected as one of this year’s Earthshot Prize finalists

The fashion industry certainly has a way to go before becoming truly sustainable, but fortunately, innovators are up to the challenge. Springwise has also spotted this bio-based approach to leather recycling as well as sustainable waterwear for women.  

Written By: Archie Cox 



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