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Author of the post in Overland bomber jacket, J. Crew plaid skirt, Prada boots, and bag

Ever heard about textile industry waste recycling? No? You are not alone! Many don’t know about the waste produced by textile industries. However, the good news is that many of them recycle their wastes into valuable products. Read to learn more.


  1. Industrialization of Clothes Making Meant an Increase in Waste
  2. What Are Textile Production Wastes?
  3. Which Pre-Consumer Textile Waste Is Upcycled?
  4. What Are Example Products from Textile Industry Waste Recycling?
  5. Why Is the Upcycling Done?
  6. References


Industrialization of Clothes Making Meant an Increase in Waste

The inventions of industrial looms, and sewing, spinning as well as knitting machines permitted the textile industry to produce more clothing. As a result, the fashion history of sewing  went from individual custom-tailored or upcycled items to mass production. As a result, there was an overabundance of cheap, often poor/low quality clothes. Consequently, clothing became more affordable. This means the mid-class could buy clothing beyond their everyday needs. Prior to these inventions, only the Nobility and Rich could afford large wardrobes with more than one new outfit per season.


fashion blogger in shearling jacket with hood shearling hat red bag plaid skirt and tall boots
Overland shearling B2-bomber jacket, J. Crew plaid skirt, Prada boots, LeatherCoatsEtc gloves, bag (gift from a girl friend)



What Are the Textile Production Wastes?

There are remnants at various steps in the production process. Rotor spinning machines produce waste in the fiber and filament manufacture process. The quality control may sort out uneven yarns. Furthermore, there is waste weaving, fabric dyeing/treatment, cutting, and sewing. For instance, every weaving machine produces at least 3-4% unavoidable waste of the weft yarn including catch ends. Finally, recycling also causes waste.


Which Pre-Consumer Textile Waste Is Upcycled?

Textile industries reclaim by-products from fiber and yarn production, mill ends, scraps, and clippings. Products damaged in the manufacturing process are recovered too. As a result, this waste can serve as raw materials for a variety of useful products. Examples are coarse yarn, paper, automobile seats, insulation material in construction, mattresses, furniture, and carpet underlay. Old furniture, for instance, serves as source for wood accessories.

Recovered fibers from rotor-spinning can be blended with raw material. A 20/80% blend of reclaimed and new fibers, for instance, has no notable difference in quality to 100% raw material. Also, cotton fabric with 15-25% waste fibers shows the same tenacity as fabric from only new fibers.


What Are Example Products from Textile Industry Waste Recycling?

Typically, stuffed toys consist of textile waste. Shoe insoles are made from textile waste as well. Other examples are wipes, seed-carrier bands, fancy composites for floor covering or car carpets, and compostable packaging. Furthermore, textile waste serves as raw material for crude felts for bitumen roofing, or geo-textiles. Geo-textiles are web mesh-mats which serve to protect soil against erosion.


Why Is the Upcycling Done?

First, the strong peer-competition requires to keep production costs low. Therefore, CEOs aim at minimizing losses. Consequently, their goal is to turn waste into sellable, value-added products. As a result, the company makes money from its waste, which increases the profit. In other words, waste is either a loss or source of money.


plaid wool skirt with cashmere sweater and tall snake boots red bag winter fashion
J. Crew wool skirt, Prada tall boots, black pearl necklace, red bag (gift from a girl friend), and Akoya saltwater pearl necklace c/o The Pearl Source


Second, textile-industry waste-recycling improves the company image. Due to the eco-friendly trend, customers love brands that recycle as part of sustainability in fashion.

Third, many people can feel good about buying and/or wearing environmentally-friendly fashion.



Bhatia, D., Sharma, A., and Malhotra, U., 2014. Recycled fibers: An overview. International Journal of Fiber and Textile Research, 4(4), 77-82.

Döbler, Hannsferdinand, 1972. Kultur und Sittengeschichte der Welt – Kleidung, Mode, Schmuck. Bertelsmann Verlag, München, Germany.

Mölders, N., 2023. Discover the Relation between Fashion, Fabrics, Weather, and Comfort. In press.

Smithsonian, 2019. Women: Our Story. DK Publishing, New York.


© 2013-2023 Nicole Mölders | All rights reserved

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Although, I think the fashion industry does much more harm than good, I’m glad that a few have made it their mission to try and do something.This sort of ties in with a book I am currently reading, “Fashionopolis” by Dana Thomas. I know you sew and wondered if you had heard of Fab Scrap, a non-profit that recycles The Garment District’s left overs. Their “Scrap Packs” make for interesting sewing. Take care, Terri

  2. Jodie

    I love that this is happening more and more.