Shredding + Rebonding Textiles

This is what I’m curious about lately — shredding and rebonding textiles. It started when I was cleaning my living room rug. I noticed the pad under the rug was made up of bits and pieces of salvaged foam. I’ve always liked the look of this material. It’s classic — like a quilted moving blanket or a cast iron pan. carpet padding

One of the problems we face with the fashion industry is the amount of waste. What if we mined that waste and used it as a resource. We could grind up fashion that is no longer wanted and turn it into a new classic textile. Something that is so unique and performs so well that it could not be ignored.

Let’s back up and see how carpet padding is actually made? This type of padding is called rebonded polyurethane. This video shows how scraps of foam are ground into smaller bits. The bits are then bound together with chemicals and steam into something like a giant loaf of bread which can then be cut into usable slices.

Could we do something similar in a more organic way but with textile scraps instead of foam? Textile shredders already exist. What if each of our town dumps had a textile shredder that could grind up textile waste and resell it?

The shredded textile on its own could be useful as filling but let’s take it one step further. Could these textile scraps be rebound into a new iconic fabric? It seems like a solvable problem. In the end, we could end up with a gorgeous terrazzo-like fabric.
blue terrazzoInstead of seeing bits of marble or glass we could see bits of jeans or flannel. The material could become a new classic like a herringbone or gingham.
colorful terrazoTo achieve this terrazzo look we’d need to make the fabric the way felt is made. If you think it sounds complicated just think about how silk is made.

What do you think? It’s crazy, right? I think it’s time. It’s time for a Fashion Revolution.

9 thoughts on “Shredding + Rebonding Textiles

  1. Jackie Jennings April 24, 2017 / 3:16 pm

    I think about this all the time! As an interior designer, I’ve noticed the amount of wasted upholstery fabrics is huge. When product lines get discontinued, huge amounts of fabrics are pulled from sample libraries and tossed into the dumpster. Because the sample is too small to do anything with, there’s no useful reason to keep it. I think about this waste all the time, and wonder what we could do to solve it. Keep thinking!

    • recovergirl April 24, 2017 / 4:24 pm

      There is a smaller, presumably less expensive textile shredder, made by FilaMaker. Seems like a good place to start. You keep me posted if you make any progress. Thanks for leaving a comment! Cheers! jam

    • Gloria April 24, 2017 / 8:41 pm

      Jackie, there is a group here in the Bay Area called FabMo, and they rescue interior design textiles and other design items and offer them to the public for FREE (donations kindly accepted). They have crafts events and are starting to reach out into many communities. Their showroom is a couple of hours from my place, but they came to the town next over a few months ago and WOW! Until JAM’s idea of terrazzo fabric takes hold, maybe this is something a green-minded group in your area could spearhead:

      • Jackie Jennings April 25, 2017 / 1:39 am

        This is a great idea! I have definitely thought about it as a crafter/ quilters dream to come across all of these fabric squares… Thank you for the resource, I will investigate!

  2. Gloria April 24, 2017 / 8:49 pm

    I read about this company in a Spanish newspaper some time ago. They are doing exactly what you suggest!

    I imagine there must be a lot of Industrial Engineering Depts across colleges and universities all over the world with your same concern. Now i want to learn more about what they are surely doing

    • recovergirl April 24, 2017 / 9:08 pm

      Gloria, Thank you for the comments. Can’t wait to check out the link! Cheers! jam

  3. Style Kooky April 29, 2017 / 6:02 pm

    very very interesting!
    never really thought of that before!!!
    It’s a great idea to avoid waste fabric!!

  4. laura F December 9, 2020 / 4:53 pm

    It’s 2020 now–I’ve been thinking a lot about this and came across your blog. Anything come of any of this? I’ve been wondering if there is a way to start small, doing some kind of felted items that can be sold, and possibly growing it from there. Fabric recycling on a large scale is very limited where I am in northeast Ohio. I’d love to hear more thoughts!

    • recovergirl December 9, 2020 / 5:00 pm

      Hello from Maine! I have not taken any significant steps on this project. I still think about it all the time. If I take any steps in this direction, I’ll let you know. And if you make any headway, you be sure to let me know. Be well! – jam

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