When garments are eligible to be recycled, they start facing a long and tough journey to be brought back to a new life, and one of the biggest challenge in it is the presence of trimmingss and accessories. Rigid parts (zips and buttons), elastics, liners, linings, care labels, brand labels, embroideries, prints, you name it, are all small elements, but – as they say – the devil is in the details, even more in recycling. Why do trimmings and accessories hinder garment recycling? When garments are collected, they are manually divided by compositions and colors (this phase is called ‘sorting‘), then they must be cleaned from non-recyclable elements. This phase has a big effect on the speed and efficiency of the process, and most of the time it causes also a loss in terms of textile material.
- The parts that have buttons or zips are cut out
- The parts that have elastics, such as cuffs, are cut out
- Brand labels and care labels are detached
- Linings are unstitched and detached
- The parts that have liners, embroideries and prints are cut out
A common obstacle is also the use of sewing threads that have different compositions to the garment’s material. Again, this is a detail that has an effect on the speed and efficiency of the process. The less components the garment has, the more recyclable and less wasteful it will be. The solution for winning this big challenge is designing for easy-disassembly: carefully considering how to design a product in a way that it is easy to disassemble after its life, using little or no trimmings, using fewer components, designing with fewer cuts, seams and embroideries.