Recover: Closing the Loop with Recycled Fibers

March 8, 2016
Case Studies

The Challenge

The textiles industry has a significant impact on the environment due to its land, water and energy intensive operations. With an ever increasing need to decrease our reliance on natural resources; the transition from virgin to recovered and upcycled cotton is becoming a necessity. For example, one kilogram of virgin cotton requires over 13,000 litres of water. In comparison, one kilogram of recovered, upcycled cotton requires no additional water, farming, processing, or dyeing than when it was first produced and generates no additional greenhouse gasses.


“Closed loops in textile industries are closer to reality than many would think. The improving techniques of mechanical recycling and the endorsement of global brands and retailers, that realise the important potential for profit making, push the practices of high value recycling to become the new standard for the textile and fashion sectors.”

- Isaac Nichelson, Chief Sustainability & Marketing Officer, Recover Textiles

The Approach

Recover has been recycling post-industrial clipping waste for over 70 years, however this recovery stream accounts for only a fraction of overall textile waste. Four generations of research and development in textile recycling has led to some impressive technical advances that make the quality of Recover’s upcycled yarn comparable to virgin, at a competitive price and with a fraction of the environmental impact. Different textile streams (post-industrial, pre-consumer, and post-consumer) require different considerations such as logistics, security and recycling processes. Together with Circle Economy, Recover aims to explore the high-value recycling possibilities within these waste streams, and develop new, scalable, closed loop solutions, through a series of practical implementation projects.

These ongoing pilot projects, with pre and post consumer textiles, aim to develop a model that is both replicable and scalable in the long term, while maintaining the high standards that Recover has set. Circle Economy and Recover are developing this model through the following collaborative projects with industry: Reblend High-Value Recycling Project, Reshare High-Value Recycling Project, and G-Star High-Value Recycling Project.

What's Next?


With this project, Recover aims to extend it’s expertise of recycling to pre and post consumer textiles, to develop new closed loop solutions for the industry. Such changes can create a system whereby products, fabrics and fibres are infinitely and effectively cycled through connected loops allowing for continued fibre consumption without the depletion or destruction of resources and ecosystems, on which we are dependent.


As a part of our member community, Recover shares in our ambition to make the circular economy a reality.
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