What is Cellulose Pulp and What is Circulose?

Circulose is a new natural material that closes the loop on fashion. Circulose is an alternative cellulose pulpWhat is circulose and what is a cellulose fiber? which is made from discarded textiles. It uses a breakthrough process that is 100% powered by renewable energy. Many initiatives for recycling and reusing of fabric have been launched, and circulose, which is made by Renewcell, is one of them.

Maybe you have heard about the new natural material that Levi’s is using to make sustainable denim jeans and been wondering but what is circulose? Or what is cellulose pulp and what is a cellulose fiber for that matter? So let’s have a closer look at these innovative textiles solutions.

What is Circulose and What is Cellulose Pulp?

Circulose is a cellulose pulp which is obtained by recovering natural fibers that are present in used clothes and unsold garments. Circulose is recycling old and unused jeansCellulose pulp is used in the textile industry to make viscose, lyocell, modal, acetate and other types of man made cellulose fabrics.

The raw material that is normally used for cellulose fibers, is wood. The difference with circulose is that it does not come from wood, but the cellulose is obtained from cotton. Cotton is the purest type of cellulose that is found in nature. It is the preferred fiber for producing Circulose. Nudie Jeans are making jeans from recycled denim.

The cellulose pulp can be turned into a textile fiber, which can be spun into filaments and turned into a textile. This textile is then ready for garments to be made from the regenerated fibers. Circulose is a sustainable fiber, collecting cellulose from old clothes to produce new clothes.

The idea behind Circulose is to collect the cotton from old clothes. By re purposing it, close the loop and bring the circular economy into the world of clothing. The fashion industry has a huge impact on the environment, including water waste, waste production, deforestation and it has a large impact on climate change. So recycling and re purposing of existing garments and products are increasingly researched.

Discover more about what is a cellulose fiber in this post: Viscose fabric – the textile made from cellulose

Who Makes Circulose?

Circulose is produced by Renewcell, a Swedish bio materials company that is based in Kristinehamn, near Stockholm. The first recycling plant is up and running in Kristinehamn and is 100% powered by green energy from wind and water, which are renewable energy sources. What is cellulose pulp? Circulose made by Renewcell

Renewcell was started by scientists at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, who were researching more efficient ways of producing bio ethanol and finding new ways to decompose cellulose. What is circulose? this is the cellulose fiber with the color removed and ready to be converted into yarn and fabricAfter realizing that it could be a major way of recycling textiles, they founded Renewcell in January 2012.

Renewcell recycling technology transforms high cellulosic waste into pure, natural dissolving pulp, called circulose pulp. The procedure is very similar to that of recycling paper. They only make the fibers and sell the circulose as pulp or fibers and their customers then make yarn, fabric and garments from the circulose pulp.

Renewcell will work with clothing that contains a minimum of 98% cotton fibers. It is collaborating with large brands to get unsold clothing from warehouses and also getting used clothing that have been discarded and sent for recycling.

The Aim of Renewcell

Renewcell aims to make the fashion world more sustainable. The starting point is the awareness of the strong impact that the fashion sector has on the environment.Cellulose fiber is obtained from old garments and jeans About 85% of the clothes that are produced every year, end up in landfills, and only 1% is recycled. This contributes to the pollution of large areas of the planet.

Too few garments are recycled, often because it is not always that easy to recycle cotton and viscose on a large scale basis. Because there is a break in the cycle, it stops. But now, with making circulose, Renewcell has found a solution to close the loop in the cycle.

Renewcell uses a recycling technology that dissolves cotton and other natural fibers into a new, biodegradable raw material, called circulose. If more cotton garments can be collected and recycled, then more garments can be made using the recycled, biodegradable circulose fibers.

The process that Renewcell is using to recycle the cotton fabrics, is very similar to that used for recycling paper. Through the recovery of used clothes, a fiber that is equivalent to natural fibers, is produced and new clothes can be made from it.

Explore more about renewcell on their website renewcell.com

Renewcell Technology – How Circulose Production Works

Old clothes, like the worn out pair of jeans at the back of your cupboard, is transformed into a pristine, natural material that does not require any cotton fields, oil or sacrificing trees. Jeans are shredded to make circuloseGarments that cannot be resold, are used, and this is the basic process:

  • Garments that have a high cotton and viscose (cellulose) content, are received
  • The first step is to remove the buttons and zips and other trims.
  • Clothes are then torn or shredded into pieces.
  • Color is removed from the textile and turned into a dough or slurry.
  • Any non-cellulose content, like polyester and plastic, and any other contaminants, are removed from the slurry. Discover what is a cellulose fiber with circulose
  • What remains is pure cellulose, an organic and biodegradable polymer from which cotton, and all plants and trees are made.
  • The slurry is dried to produce a pure, natural circulose branded pulp.
  • Once the slurry is dry, sheets of this special fiber are produced, ready for new garments to be made.
  • This is baled up and can be used in the textile production cycle.

Renewcell ensures that no solvents are used during the production process. Only eco friendly chemicals are used and are regularly recovered at each stage of the process.

The exact process is a trade secret, but it is using a closed loop production process, so nothing that is used or added, leaves the plant.

Why Use Circulose? The Features and Benefits:

Thousands of tons of biodegradable circulose pulp is produced ever year and it is a great way to regenerate textile fibers. Circulose fibers are equivalent to natural virgin fibers and they can be used pure, or mixed with other types of fibers. Fibers made from circulose pulp have a lot in common with cotton fibers.

  • Circulose is an innovative and extremely sustainable fiber.
  • The process of recycling cotton and viscose fibers uses
    • less water and chemicals,
    • it emits less carbon dioxide and
    • the use of the world’s resources can be prolonged.
  • Circulose is recyclable and biodegradable.
  • It is a great solution to keep clothes out of landfill.
  • Recycling keeps clothing out of landfill sites and minimizes the use of our natural resources. Old jeans are transformed into high quality materials, moving beyond the traditional recovery of cotton, which breaks and shortens the cotton fibers.
  • Thousands of liters of water can be saved if clothing is recycled, rather than producing virgin textiles.
  • Circulose offers a natural and sustainable alternative to the raw materials used in the fashion industry.
  • By choosing circulose, you can cut out waste and reduce your fashion footprint to almost zero.
  • The quality is equivalent to virgin fibers.

Circulose pulp fibers are organic and sustainable and allow for a better use of the earth’s natural resources.

What is Circulose Used for?

Brands that have already chosen Circulose, Dress made from circulose cellulose fiberinclude major brands like Levi’s and H&M, who have already started using Renewcell circulose in their products.

Levi’s have in 2020 created their Recycled jeans, made with organic cotton and Circulose. They have launched their famous Levi 501 model for men, using the new circulose fiber, and also using it in the style High Loose, for women.

Thanks to this innovation, Levi’s jeans now last longer and in the circular economy, old jeans become new over and over again. Get you pair of Levi’s jeans here.

The current health pandemic has also turned many people’s attention to more sustainable choices. Buying less, has a positive effect on the environment and by buying one pair of second hand Levi’s instead of a new pair, it saves 80% of the CO2 emissions.

H&M in the range called Conscious Exclusive SS20, used it in a dress for women. The H & M dress is made with 100% viscose, in a combination of 50% derived from FSC certified wood and 50% circulose which has been recovered from post consumer denim.

Can my favorite denim jeans also be eco friendly?

Innovative textile solutions mean that if it is made with circulose, it certainly can be eco friendly and sustainable. Nudie Jeans are also making jeans from recycled denim and you can read more about them in this post on Best 100% Organic Cotton Jeans from Nudie Jeans.

Levi's 502 jeans made with circulose cellulose pulp

Some brands are committing themselves to using sustainable fibers. Our next step as consumers are to make intelligent choices and purchase durable garments.

The textile industry uses the process of dissolving pulp to make man-made cellulose fibers for producing viscose, modal, lyocell, rayon and acetate, and now also circulose.

If you think how huge the size of the fashion industry is, then something like buying a pair of jeans can make a big difference. So look out for brands that are using circulose and choose a pair that our planet will thank you for.

Related post: 10 Best Organic Cotton Jeans Brands.

Final Thoughts on What is Cellulose Pulp and What is Circulose

The textile industry has been developing new fibers and implementing new technologies which are both innovative, and better for the environment. Sustainable textile innovations are a step closer to ensure that the fashion industry becomes more sustainable. The foundation for a greener future for the fashion industry, lies in innovative textile solutions.

Ecological fashion was once regarded as a very niche area, but it has become very popular and trendy with the general public. The world of fashion is facing an important change, one that is increasingly moving towards sustainability.

So whatever you do, do not throw your clothes in the bin. Circulose proves that recycling clothes does work.

I would like to hear your thoughts and views on what is cellulose pulp and also what is Circulose. So please leave your comments below and I will get back to you.

16 thoughts on “What is Cellulose Pulp and What is Circulose?”

  1. I have always felt that recycling is a great way to reduce the wrecking that we unleash upon our environment. I am glad to learn that clothing products are also being recycled so well. 

    Renewcell is aiming to make the fashion world more sustainable. Very important is the awareness of the strong impact that the fashion sector has on the environment. If such materials are available that can reduce waste, then I think we have a good deal. 

    Thanks for this education.



    • Recycling is one of the best ways to reduce out environmental impact. Renewcell is awesome in the way that they are showing the fashion sector how it can be done. 

  2. extremely interesting article on Circulose. I had never heard of it before but now I am interested in buying some new Levis! This is really great news for the planet if we can take a huge industry such as clothing and really start to recycle. This will make a very big difference in the pollution issues we face.I am wondering where I can take my old clothes to get them recyled?

    • It is indeed good news that many of the big brands are doing far more to be sustainable. You can look out for clothes banks or clothes recycling bins in your area, as many areas do have them. Alternatively you can take it to a charity shop or thrift shop as they often send clothing and textiles for recycling. I hope it helps. 

  3. Thanks for sharing a good article to read to know more about what is Cellulose pulp and what is circulose. When I was young my father used to work for a big company who used to made cellulose, I still remember I visited that factory a few times and my father told me how cellulose was made, today I work on designing and making quilts with different types of fabrics, lately I’m working on different materials and using old garments to make different quilted projects to avoid to put away some old pieces of cloth, so I think this is a way to give every piece of clothing a second life, I love to work with the Japanese textiles style called Boro or Boroboro. I like to know there is some people around the world looking for a way to reuse textiles and clothing to crate new garments. 

    • Oh this is great to hear that you are making quilts from old fabrics, and what an awesome way to reuse old garments. I am not familiar with the Japanese textiles that you mention so I will have a closer look at them.

  4. Circulose is just super powerful. I love the idea of recycling old clothes and then recover the cellulose in them to make new clothes from this. That’s awesome. This is the reason why I never throw my old clothes. I still have them all lol. And I truly encourage others to do the same. Together, we can change the world of fashion.

    That’s a great article, and I truly enjoyed it.

    • Recycling and repurposing old clothes are indeed a great way to keep clothes out of landfill. It is awesome to learn what is cellulose pulp used for and that a product like circulose can close the loop on fashion. 

  5. Sixty years ago, I remember my mother and grandmother and their friends cutting up my torn shirts and pants to make all sizes and descriptions of quilts.  This was the original recycling.  The process that you have described is fantastic.  I am wondering if there is a way for second hand clothes people and recyclers to tap into a network the does this kind of thing. Because clothes eventually rot, they will never be part of the growing garbage problem, but this process can go a long way to save the plants and trees that are destroyed and land taken up for cloth.  I am going to look to see if the clothes I buy are recycled.

    • Clothes do biodegrade if it is made from natural fibers, but it takes a long time. If synthetic fibers are used, which is basically plastic, it doesn’t rot for more than 500 years, so it is a big garbage problem. So when you look at what is circulose and the recycling process that is used, it is awesome to learn what is a cellulose fiber and how it can be recycled.

  6. Wow, this sounds like a very important breakthrough for the fashion industry. Levi’s has been known for over a century for their durable denim jeans, so it’s a very big endorsement of the materials quality to hear that Levi’s is using circulose for sustainable denim jeans! 

    Jeans were already some of the most durable items in my closet, but I’d really love to try these ecological ones out for myself – thank you so much for the info!

    • Learning about what is circulose is indeed great. The fact that Levi’s is using it for iconic denim jeans, is indeed an awesome accolade to the product. Awesome to see what is cellulose pulp used for. 

  7. I always wondered why the used clothing places around me also requested old t-shirts or towels, even if they were no longer usable. They said they would be recycled, but I didn’t get the connection. You have closed the loop for me. It is interesting that the process has been around since 2012, and it only now becoming more mainstream.

    • Fabric recycling is on the increase and it is far better to recycle old clothes, than to send it to landfill. Although Renewcell was founded in 2012, production only started much later and hopefully will increase.

  8. Hello there!

    That is a very helpful and educative article you have there. Now I understand better what Circulose actually mean as well as Cellulose. More so, I have a better understanding of their various features now. This knowledge will be very useful for me when I start my fashion business because i will love to use them for my jeans.


    • It is awesome what is cellulose pulp used for, and using circulose to make jeans will certainly make your garments more sustainable and eco friendly. 


Leave a Comment