In a world where the fashion industry is constantly under pressure to be more sustainable, secondary raw materials are becoming an increasingly important part of the equation.
What are SRMs? And what benefits do they bring to fashion companies?
Secondary Raw Materials (SRMs)
Secondary raw materials are obtained from raw material processing waste or end-of-life products that are recovered and treated in special facilities. The European Waste Framework Directive (2008/98/EC) designates SRMs as those materials and products that can be used as raw materials through reuse, recycling, or rehabilitation. Within a country's economy, secondary raw materials are marketed in the same way as virgin raw materials.
So, SRMs are materials that have already been used in a previous product cycle, then collected and processed for reuse. Their key benefit is that they require fewer resources to produce than their primary raw materials, making them more sustainable.
Some examples of SRMs in fashion are:
- fabrics: recycled cotton, cashmere, wool, denim but also recycled polyester or tencel;
- accessories: upcycled buttons and zippers;
- materials coming from other industries: recycled plastic or rubber.
Regarding textile SRMs, we can divide them into two categories:
- Pre-consumer textile waste, such as offcuts from factories or post-manufacturing leftovers.
- Post-consumer textile waste, such as clothes collected for recycling from second-hand shops, charity organisations, and consumers.
An example could be Brazilian sunglasses start-up Preza which makes its products from the wood chip waste recovered from luxury furniture production. Orange Fiber, an Italian company which has patented the pulp production process for citrus by-products, to produce the first-ever TENCEL™ branded lyocell fibre made of orange and wood pulp was adopted by Salvatore Ferragamo for their Maison homewear line.