How does it get recycled?
Recycled cotton can be generally defined as converting cotton fabric back into cotton fiber that can be reused in textile products.
The largest volume of recycled cotton is sourced through pre-consumer waste, such as cutting scraps from the factory floor. Post-consumer waste, such as a cheap tri-blend tees, is more difficult to sort through due to various color shades, fabric blends, and it is generally a much more labor-intensive process.
To make a recycled cotton fiber, fabrics and materials are first sorted by color. Then the fabrics are run through a machine that shreds the fabric into yarn and further into raw fiber. This process is harsh and puts a great deal of strain on the cotton fibers. The fibers will often break and entangle during shredding. After shredding, the raw fiber is then spun back into yarns for reuse in other products.
This is problematic in the luxury space. The length of the fibers is paramount in creating something of high quality; and this is the main reason that Supima® is such a special type of cotton. Recycled cotton fibers are short which results in a coarse, dry feel that lacks the refinement and strength of fibers. The reality is that the quality of recycled fiber will never have quality values equal to the original fiber and no where near the fiber length and uniformity.