What exactly is recycled cotton?

  • 19th February 2020

BIDBI launched its Recycled Cotton Tote back in September. We were excited to offer a product made from recycled materials as sustainability is at the heart of everything we do here at BIDBI.

We want that to reflect through our manufacturing and printing processes and also through our products. All of the cotton used to produce BIDBI bags and homewares is sourced sustainably and our Fairtrade and Organic range is accredited by Fairtrade and the Soil Association.

We wanted to take that a step further and create a product made of recycled cotton, and we did. But the question is, why is that so significant? And why is recycled cotton so important?

While the cotton we use is sourced sustainably, it does use natural resources to grow and harvest. So, a way to avoid using these resources to grow new raw cotton for textile production, why not use pre-existing cotton? This is where the recycled cotton process begins.

Recycled cotton is generally described as coming from two main sources

● pre-consumer, being cotton that has not been used by the end user, such as cotton cut offs or by-products from initial cotton production. ● And post-consumer, being cotton products that have already been used by the consumer for example used garments, soft furnishings or towels.

The simple version of how recycled cotton is made the recycled cotton will be

  • Sorted by colour (By sorting the cotton by its colour before it is shredded and re-spun you avoid dying and drying the cotton again.)
  • Shredded into fibres
  • Cleaned
  • Re-spun into a yarn which can then be woven to make new material. As this recycled cotton is slightly weaker than raw cotton there will be some new fibres woven in the material the thicken it.

Something that could be seen as a negative with recycled cotton is inconsistency within the final woven material due to a lack of uniformity because of the different origins of the cotton. However, this usually isn’t noticeable, and we think there’s something special about the uniqueness of recycled cotton products.

The importance of recycled cotton should not be overlooked. By using recycled cotton, you are continuing the loop and the lifecycle of an item. The material is given a new lease of life, rather than being discarded. It also avoids having to use resources to grow new crops in order to produce a product that could have been otherwise created using recycled cotton. A closed loop system lessens the need for using raw resources to grow crops and adverse environmental impacts, and in turn stops wasteful discarding of items which have not reached their full potential.

If you are interest in recycled cotton check out BIDBI’s Recycled Cotton Tote here