In celebration of Earth Day, we spoke with Nora, the Head of Communications and PR at Renewcell. “Renewcell is a Swedish sustaintech company with a unique technology to recycle textiles without losing quality at scale on a mission to make fashion circular.” - Nora, Renewcell 

Read our conversation below to learn more about Renewcell and why Earth Day is so important. 

What part do you play in the business?

I’m head of Communications and PR at Renewcell, working closely with our brand partners on the story of Circulose®, our 100% recycled material.

How is Renewcell contributing to a circular economy? 

When garments are worn out or no longer wanted some are sold second-hand or used as hand-me-downs, but the vast majority end up in landfills or are incinerated. In fact, about 85% of all textiles end up in landfills. Much too few are recycled due to the fact that cotton and viscose can't be recycled with satisfactory quality on a large enough scale. The cycle stops, there is a hole in the loop, a crucial part is missing.

Renewcell has developed a chemical recycling process that makes it possible to create quality clothing from textile waste at scale. The recycling technology dissolves used cotton and other natural fibers into a new biodegradable raw material, Circulose® pulp. Brands that choose fabrics made with Circulose® cut their waste, climate, water, microplastics and deforestation footprint significantly. Some parts of the fashion industry are moving toward more sustainable clothing, but in order to actually make a change we need to make fashion circular, at scale. We provide world-leading brands with the opportunity to use recycled material and reduce their environmental impact while remaining high quality. Fabrics and fibers made with Circulose® are indistinguishable from virgin man-made cellulosic fibers and fabrics. There is no compromise on quality – the only difference is circularity.

What is Renewcell's goal for 2030?  

 Continue to increase our recycling capacity to 360,000 tons a year. 

The theme of Earth Day 2023 is ‘Invest In Our Planet’. What does this mean to you and Renewcell?  

There is fashion everywhere, on everybody and in almost every store. In the future, even more, people will have to be clothed. With growing prosperity, a swelling global middle class will adopt new consumption patterns which means buying more clothes and using each garment fewer times before discarding it. 

The industry has become all about growing more cotton, using more water, spraying more chemicals and pumping more oil to be able to lower prices and sell as much as possible. The mantra has been bigger, faster cheaper and more wasteful. The fashion industry is valued to around $2.4 trillion and employs more than 75 million people worldwide. However, it is calculated that the industry loses hundreds of billions of dollars each year due to a lack of recycling and clothing not being sold and ending up in landfills. In fact, the industry has an immense material footprint since less than 1% of fashion is recycled back into clothes. 

To change fashion we need to make it circular, we need to invest in the supply chain and change the way we produce clothing. And we need to do it now.

What small changes can we make to better the planet? In our personal and professional lives.  

I’d say reading this is a good start! It starts by educating ourselves, looking at the science and research to understand what we need to do. When it comes to fashion the most sustainable thing would be not to use clothes. But that will never happen, we need clothes, and we need fashion. Fashion is creative, fun, and important. We express ourselves through clothes and fashion has become a reflection of the state of our society. But what you can do is think about how you consume and purchase clothes. Do you really need something new or can you buy it second-hand. Reduce, reuse, resell and recycle is a simple mantra – but that doesn’t make it any less true.

January 05, 2024 — Gabi Kleanthous