Challenges with Recycled Cotton

Recycled Cotton is gaining popularity as key global brands take ahead the concept of circular economy. But, as a sourcing professional it is important to understand the key challenges you are likely to encounter when sourcing recycled cotton garments.

There are several challenges associated with garments made from recycled cotton:


Recycled cotton fibers are often shorter and weaker than virgin cotton fibers, which can affect the quality, durability, and appearance of the final product. Garments made from recycled cotton may be more prone to shrinkage, fading, and tearing than those made from virgin cotton.


Recycled cotton may be contaminated with various substances, such as dyes, resins, and heavy metals, that can be harmful to both the environment and human health. This can affect the appearance and safety of the final product.


Recycling cotton requires a well-established and efficient supply chain to collect and process used cotton textiles. This can be a challenge in some regions, where the infrastructure and capacity for textile recycling is limited.

Supply chain transparency

The supply chain for recycled cotton can be complex, with multiple intermediaries involved in collecting, sorting, and processing the material. This can make it difficult to track the origin of the recycled cotton and ensure that it is being sourced sustainably.


Recycling cotton is often more labor-intensive and requires specialized equipment, which can increase the cost of the final product. Additionally, the demand for recycled cotton products is often higher than the supply, which can drive up prices.

Despite these challenges, many companies and consumers are still committed to using recycled cotton in their products, as it can help to reduce waste and conserve resources. To mitigate these challenges, it is important to work with responsible suppliers and recyclers who prioritize quality, transparency, and sustainability in their operations.