Cotton textile waste isn’t just getting tossed anymore, it’s making TENCEL® and big brands are buying into it.

Announcing Lenzing’s latest development at the Textile Exchange Sustainability Conference in Hamburg, Germany Tuesday, Tricia Carey, the company’s director of business development for apparel and denim, said no new ideas come to fruition without determination.

And Lenzing was determined to answer the market’s demand for closed loop production processes by taking cotton scraps that would have otherwise been discarded and turning them into fiber.

To make the virgin TENCEL® from the cotton waste, Lenzing takes the fabric  scraps from post industrial waste,  removes any contaminants such as dyestuffs and resins and produces a cotton cellulose pulp. This pulp is blended with wood pulp adding only solvent and water and the only output is TENCEL® fiber and water. In keeping with the recycling efforts, during the lyocell process the solvent gets used over and over and over again, and the whole process uses 95 percent less water than it takes to produce cotton.

“This is taking the next step toward what we talk about so much here at Textile Exchange, and that’s the circular economy,” Carey said.

Recently Lenzing’s first brand and retail partner for the new TENCEL® fiber was announced.  Now Patagonia has been added as the latest brand to take up the closed-loop fiber.

“Patagonia pioneered recycled materials starting with polyester in our apparel in the 90s and we are always looking for new ways to incorporate recycled materials into our products,” said Helena Barbour, senior director of global sportswear at Patagonia. “This revolutionary new material Lenzing has created takes pre-consumer waste cotton scraps and turns it into a high-quality TENCEL® fiber that meets Patagonia’s rigorous performance standards. Partnering with Lenzing to bring this material to market was an easy choice for us and we are excited to launch our first products soon.”

TENCEL® made from the cotton waste has the same behavioral properties as Lenzing’s traditional TENCEL® made from wood pulp, and the fiber gives garments the same smooth hand consumers seek and the strength to have lasting power.

“It’s the first of its type and it meets the desire from the market for a high quality, recycled cellulosic fiber,” Lenzing business development and project manager Michael Kininmonth, said. “The physical characteristics are as good as our standard product. Therefore there is no evidence of down-cycling whatsoever”