Consumer focused strategies like thrift shopping, repairing old clothes, and reducing consumption is great for the motivated environmental dresser, but for the massive amount of people still supporting the fast fashion industry, the looming question of what to do with textile waste still remains. To address this issue, Virginia-based company Circ has figured out a way to recycle clothing.
This recycling solution came about somewhat by accident. Entrepreneurs Peter Majeranowski and Conor Hartman started out by breaking down the fibrous stalks leftover from tobacco farming to recycle them into paper, but when a Swedish commodities trading company asked them to put a t-shirt through their recycling process, they discovered it could effectively break down 90 percent of polyester-cotton blends back into original materials.
To do this, Circ uses water, heat, pressure, and chemicals to break down textile fibers at a capacity of two tons per day. Their initiative has already captured the attention of Patagonia Inc. and Japanese trading company Marubeni Corporation, which are both investors. Circ has partnered with Fashion for Good to launch their first line of fully recycled clothing this year and brands from around the globe are putting in requests to use their technology for textile waste processing.