Each year, the world throws out a mind-boggling 92 million tons of textile waste. In a little more than a decade, that number could increase by 60 percent. One solution to this problem is recycling the most popular fabric used for making clothing: cotton.
In collaboration with fashion designer Stella McCartney, Adidas has released a new line of sweatshirts made entirely out of old clothing. The hoodie is the first commercially produced garment to use new technology that purifies and liquifies old cotton to transform it into new material.
While recycling cotton isn’t new, turning old fabric into clothing is a much harder challenge. Mechanical recycling, or chopping up the fabric into smaller pieces, weakens the fabric. Instead, the new technology used to produce this hoodie involves a chemical process. As a result, garment waste is turned into a pulp, liquified, and then pushed off a 3D-printer-like extruder to form new yarn.
For apparel companies, using this type of material is both a way to prepare for potential supply-chain shortages in the future and respond to consumers who want to buy more sustainably produced clothing.