NuCycl Recycling Technology: A Step Closer To Achieving Fashion Circularity

The fashion industry generates an estimated 92 million tons of garbage each year. This number will only continue to grow as fast fashion becomes more and more popular.

The good news is that new technologies have emerged to turn this problem into an opportunity for a circular fashion economy. Several companies are working on these solutions, but one company stands out from the rest – Evrnu, based in Seattle, Washington. 

They have developed NuCycl, a set of technologies that allow the recycling of post-consumer clothing waste, making it usable again by textile manufacturers and brands alike with no impact on quality!

Keep reading to find out more about the fiber that we will hopefully see in our clothes soon.

About Evrnu

Evrnu is a textile innovation firm that is working to create a circular environment. Evrnu technologies are utilized to manufacture fibers from discarded garments that have exceptional performance and environmental benefits.

Evrnu’s CEO and founding partner are Stacy Flynn. She is a seasoned worldwide textile product specialist and sustainable systems professional. She is responsible for Evrnu’s purpose, market positioning, and branding. 

Evrnu’s CTO and founding partner is Christopher Stanev. He is a renowned textile engineer with various innovations and patents to his name. He is in charge of the development and implementation of Evrnu technology.

After much study and testing, they realized that not only is it conceivable, but it’s possible to produce items of superior quality than the clothes were in their previous existence.

What is NuCycl?

NuCycl is a set of regenerative fiber technologies, which allow the creation of wholly new items from waste garments not once, but several times. With NuCycl, even the most challenging textile waste – 100 percent consumer waste – can be converted into new materials.

Evrnu’s NuCycl technology package is intended to assist the global textile industry is expanding by maximizing the potential of the world’s current natural resources. By reducing waste, decreasing carbon footprints, and generating significant water savings, a future in which textile manufacturers, garment companies, retailers, and consumers experience a long-term shift in environmental effect is becoming a reality.

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Evrnu’s NuCycl-based products can be dismantled to the molecular level and regenerated several times into new apparel, household, and industrial fabrics with exceptional performance and environmental benefits.

Depolymerization is used in the technique to transform the original fiber molecules into new high-performance renewable fibers. For example, Evrnu employs the chemical-based NuCycl approach to break down cotton to its basic polymer to prevent weakening the original materials. 

Once the polymers have been removed and turned into a liquid pulp, they are placed in 3D-printer-like equipment that creates new yarn, which will be utilized to manufacture a sustainable range of clothes.

Although it’s not clear what type of textiles and garments can be recycled using the NuCycl technology, it seems it may not be limited to cotton. NuCycl technologies include:

  • Regenerative Cellulosics
  • Next-generation regenerative Cellulosic solvent systems
  • Regenerative Polyester
  • Recoverable Stretch
  • Bio-Engineered Fibers

How is NuCycl different from other textile recycling technologies?

Evrnu’s work stands out in the market for sustainable textiles because of its capacity to recycle post-consumer garments — a difficulty given today’s endless mix of diverse fiber kinds and grades, each with individual demands for efficient recycling.

Today, most of what the industry refers to as textile recycling are fabric manufactured from plastic waste or, at the end-of-life stage, converted into insulation or mattresses (also known as downcycling) because of the decline in quality and value.

Cotton recycling isn’t a new concept, but making old fabric into new yarn strong enough to be fashioned into garments is a considerably more complex issue. Mechanical recycling, which involves cutting up cloth into tiny pieces, weakens it. Evrnu’s method is based on a chemical reaction.

Evrnu also claims that its own recovered fiber can be recycled five times without hurting quality, and co-founder and chief technology officer Christopher Stanev believes the actual number is higher. However, they haven’t tested it yet.

Challenges of implementing post-consumer clothing recycling

Clothes in use today were not designed for recycling: many are made with difficult-to-recycle mixed materials, such as cotton-polyester blends. While mono-materials lend themselves better to recycling, they also frequently contain chemicals that can complicate the recycling process and contaminate factory wastewater and future garments. They can be difficult to disassemble.

Sourcing

An additional problem is a need for precisely sorted and graded textiles based on the makeup of the fibers, which should preferably be automated since doing it by hand would be time-consuming, costly, and perhaps erroneous. 

The process necessitates investment, but it also needs a significant enough demand from future recyclers who are prepared to pay, ideally, for the sorted feedstock.

Overall, more significant investment and innovation are required in the textile waste supply chain, backed by the so-called Extended Producer Responsibility to encourage growth and long-term economic sustainability.

Cost

When it comes to these new and growing recycling technologies, one of the most significant impediments is the capital cost of the plants, which rises in later phases of development as the recycling facilities get more extensive and more complicated. 

Typically, the process begins with a pilot plant and progresses to a demonstration plant before a full-scale plant may be developed.

As a result, there are enormous expenses associated with developing the technologies to the point where they can compete economically in the first place. In terms of the recycling process itself, the process chemicals involved may be expensive. 

Therefore many need to collect and recycle them in sophisticated systems with numerous phases, which costs money. It is often required to operate with significant input and output for the business model to be profitable.

Companies must also meet or beat the cost of producing the virgin equivalent of the material they are making while also demonstrating to brands that they can deliver on performance and quality and convincing suppliers to adopt it.

Energy

fiber-to-fiber recycling procedures may frequently demand a lot of energy usage and the related carbon footprint. According to the waste hierarchy, recycling should be considered only after all other possibilities have been explored, namely reuse and repair.

When all other choices are explored and recycling is compared to landfills and new material creation, recycling is typically the most energy-efficient and ecologically benign option.

Product using NuCycl

Because Evrnu does not manufacture the materials directly but instead creates unique fabrics with brands and then licenses its technology to garment manufacturers, it is still in the prototype stage.

Early collaborations with Levi’s, Adidas, Target, and Stella McCartney were intended to demonstrate the technology’s applicability across denim, athletic and luxury markets. It also motivated suppliers by showing that there would be a demand for material made from Evrnu’s fabric, NuCycl if they began manufacturing with it.

Adidas by Stella McCartney

The Adidas by Stella McCartney Infinite Hoodie is the first garment to be rebuilt, constructed using NuCycl fibers and personalized performance attributes. It was created in a minimal run and is intended to be dismantled and returned to the NuCycl system.

The performance garment signals a move towards a reality where products can be completely recycled and repurposed. 

The Infinite Hoodie is made from 60% NuCycl and 40% organic cotton that has been diverted from landfills and can be reused again and again to be remade into a high-performance product.

Levi Strauss & Co.

Levi Strauss & Co. has collaborated with Evrnu to develop the world’s first jeans by recycling five discarded cotton T-shirts. According to Evrnu statistics, the cutting-edge process turns consumer trash into a sustainable fiber and consumes 98 percent less water than virgin cotton goods. 

Despite the usage of some virgin cotton, this marks a significant advancement in recycling technology.

Future

We expect to see prototypes like the above becoming actual products widely available for end-users in the coming years. “The true effect is when consumers begin giving their items, and we keep them in circulation,” explained Flynn to Vogue Business. The company has a strategy that goes all the way to 2050

Evrnu keeps growing, and it recently announced the raising of $15 million in Series B financing to scale and meet the increasing demand for its fiber-regeneration platform.

Final thoughts

Using recycled materials is a method for textile firms to prepare for anticipated supply-chain problems in the future and react to customers who wish to purchase more responsibly-made items.

Recycling is one step in creating a circular economy, but it’s not the only one. We should also take into account reusing and refurbishing what we have at home. The next time you’re looking for new clothes, take a second look at what you already own and see if there’s anything worth saving! 

The way we can all contribute to circularity is by doing the following:

  • Don’t get rid of outdated clothes.
  • Donate it or sell it so that someone else may enjoy it.
  • To increase the life of your clothes, mend or repair them.
  • Contribute to the growth of demand for garment-to-garment recycling!

What do you think? Leave us a comment!