Definitions, standards and specific industry knowledge, Uster Technologies covers the whole story of recycled textile materials in its application report Sustainability Bulletin No. 1. The publication is part of Uster’s commitment to support the use of recycled materials along the entire textile value chain.
Today, many consumers already anticipate the use of recycled materials in the clothing and home textiles they purchase. This clear demand is driving innovation throughout the industry. However, there is a degree of uncertainty about what this trend means for yarn producers, both economically and technically. The first Uster Sustainability Bulletin outlines the challenges and presents the solutions.
Starting positions and results
In textile processing upstream, stakeholders often task spinners with producing yarns using recycled materials, aiming for a quality comparable to that of yarns made from new fiber. “The use of mechanically recycled fibers in spinning has specific quality considerations. Gabriela Peters, The Head of Product Management Laboratory Systems states, “These fibers often display a higher short-fiber and nep content and may frequently be colored, particularly when post-consumer material is utilized.” At Uster Technologies and one of the bulletin’s authors. It is also true that recycled yarns have limitations in terms of yarn fineness. However, experts in the industry believe that thermo-mechanically and chemically recycled fibers and filaments pose fewer processing challenges, as they expect their processing behavior to be similar to that of new fibers and filaments from synthetic and viscose materials.
The Sustainability Bulletin is focused on the more problematic recycled raw material. For example, it deals with the potential difficulties in the various process steps in spinning. The aim is to bring clarity and understanding about mechanically recycled materials and provide ideas on how they can be processed.
Studies have indicated that yarns and fabrics manufactured from recycled fibers may be more suitable for applications where the strength of yarns and fabric is less critical, but where control of unevenness, imperfections, and handle properties is necessary. Consequently, recycled fibers are most suitable for manufacturing casual clothes such as T-shirts, sweatshirts, and sleepwear. In China, tons of denim jeans trousers are already made of mechanically recycled fibers.
The guardian of quality
Uster Technologies sees its role as knowledge provider, setting definitions and standards, to accelerate this ongoing industry transformation. As a long-term trusted supplier of quality control systems to the textile manufacturing industry, Uster assists the industry by evaluating test results. This helps to guide spinners on the current possibilities for dealing with recycled material in its many forms.
The Uster Statistics benchmarks will be helpful in the requirement to measure, control, and improve the quality. The new edition, launched at ITMA 2023, includes for the first time a section for recycled yarn. The Uster Statistics 2023 edition also features an extended range of fiber data, supporting sustainability goals. It’s a fact that an ideal fiber mix – with or without recycled content – must also meet quality requirements for minimal waste.
Cooperation for a sustainable future
Using recycled materials effectively and efficiently will be a key to success in future years. To achieve acceptable results and profitability, all sections of the textile chain will need to cooperate and learn from each other, to avoid collective failure. “Uster Technologies firmly believes that textile manufacturers have a great opportunity to lead this momentous industry transformation. Recycled fibers, which are the raw material for a sustainable future, can be processed into new products,” says Peters.