Mixed Rags to Riches
What is finer than silk, stronger than cotton, and could revolutionize the textile industry as we know it?
Specifically the recycled cotton generated by Evrnu, a Seattle-area company that is building its business around the premise that garment waste can be converted into new fiber, which can then be used in the production of new garments. Their hope is that this will finally create and be able to assist in indefinitely maintaining a closed-loop production cycle for the textile industry.
According to their website, “Evrnu’s patent-pending technology creates a regenerative supply of high-quality, bio-based fiber through the renewal of cotton garment waste, bringing us one step closer to a new textile industry where “waste” is a viable new crop we harvest and [from which we] create long-lasting beautiful garments.”
Their first step is collection of unwanted clothing and textiles. Sadly, there’s no shortage of unwanted textiles. Americans throw away 25 billion pounds of used clothing each year, and donate even more. From those donations, mixed rags are readily available. Mixed rags are donated used clothing items that were either unsuitable for resale due to imperfections (stains, tears, excessive wear, etc) or were suitable for resale but failed to sell in the storefront. These types of clothing are perfect for the recycling process because they are otherwise unwanted. Fabric types other than cotton will be sorted out and passed on to other entities*.
Evrnu strips dyes and chemicals from the cotton fibers they process. They “pulp” the cotton. When working with raw cotton, the pulping process involves chopping the cotton and then “cooking” it to break down the cotton fibers into a slurry of cellulose. Even though Evrnu doesn’t use virgin resources to create their fibers, the pulping process is probably still very similar. In order to create a new yarn, the cotton must be broken down to its most basic structure: a fiber. After the pulping process, the fibers are recombined and extruded. (Their website will give you a better idea of their complete process.)
The finished product is a cloth that “has the texture of silk and is stronger than cotton” says company co-founder and CEO Stacy Flynn. Its costs are comparable to that of organic cotton and its potential for positive environmental impact could be massive.
As a mixed rags supplier, we here at EcoGoodz are excited to welcome Evrnu to the used clothing and textiles industry!
*Fabric types other than cotton can be recycled as well. Polyester, for example, is a type of plastic (an ester functional group of polymers) and can be recycled and used again in the production of clothing and textiles. Other fibers, including wool, can also be broken down and reprocessed to create new fibers or products.