Evrnu is a new technology that is closing the loop on fast fashion. The technology takes cotton garment waste, breaks it down and purifies it. The pulp is extruded into a new fibre that is both fine and strong. The process uses 2% of the water that was used to make the original cotton garment and can also be used for some synthetic fibres that are notoriously hard to recycle. The company partnered with Levi’s to create the first jean recycled from 5 cotton t-shirts. The jeans will be commercially available in 2017.
Fast fashion might be cheap for the consumer, but the environment pays a high cost for it. Not only are resources expended to produce clothes, but they often end up in waste streams. The US discards an average of 65lbs of textiles per person each year. 85% of this waste ends up in landfill and accounts for 5% of overall landfill space. While some clothes are recycled, this often means the clothes are shipped to developing countries where they are resold and ultimately still sent to landfills.
If Evrnu’s recycling technology takes off it has the potential to disrupt the fashion industry. Current recycling technology exists but degrades the quality of the fibres in the recycling process. Used clothing becomes home insulation material, for example. Evrnu is different because clothing can be transformed into premium clothing many times over. Garment waste is broken down to the molecular level and extruded into a premium fibre. The technology enables a future in which clothing is regularly recycled much the way glass an aluminum are today.
How might a shift towards a closed loop system change the way clothing is produced and consumed? Will we end up consuming more once we know it is “guilt free?
And will there still be a demand for raw materials such as cotton? How can we ensure that these are still produced in a sustainable manner?