found out about the company Manteco From an Instagram ad. Normally I’m just scrolling, but something caught my eye and I stopped. And boy am I glad I did! Within minutes of looking at their website, I knew they were a legitimate source for using recycled wool, recycled cashmere, recycled alpaca blends, and even recycled cotton textiles.
But before we begin.
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I had the pleasure of chatting with Mattia, our head of communications and photography, to learn more about the company and all of its products. I have not been paid or rewarded in any way. I think they are a cool company and do cool things and support small brands. I’m here to give you the facts, not the hype. We are very happy to share about the recycling of kind textiles.
Manteco started recycling wool in the 1940s. Over 80 years ago!
This is one of the craziest things to me about some eco fabrics. And like Cuddy, I’m a big fan of old-fashioned manufacturing techniques. I believe the future of the industry lies in the past.
When Manteco first started operations, it was very difficult to obtain raw materials such as wool. The company was therefore created as a workaround to the limited materials they had access to. started. (At the time, Manteco only produced recycled yarns, not textiles).
You may be feeling a little déjà vu right now. I wrote an article about zero waste in India, which has similar sentiments. That’s because many of the most eco-friendly options we have are pretty old, born out of our ancestors’ resource scarcity.
fast forward to today
Manteco processes 5-6 million kilograms of fiber per year, spins it into yarn, then weaves and knits it into cloth.
These fabrics are made from two types of raw materials. The first is consumer-used sources of wool, such as used wool clothing. And the second. Pre-consumer wool waste that is a by-product from the manufacturing process and also unsold garments.
How new fabrics are made from old customer garments
break them down
First, sort the old clothes by color and fiber composition. Everything is then shredded. The machine looks like a big conveyor belt. And as the sweater moves through the system, it is torn until it breaks down into just the fibers.
The beauty of Manteco’s system is that it uses only mechanical manipulations to break down the fibers.
Today, many new recycling companies (especially cotton recycling companies) use chemicals to break down clothing. In their system, cotton comes in, but new rayon comes out.There is no chemical change in Manteco. So whatever goes into the system, such as wool or cashmere, comes out the other side.
When clothes are just textiles, new colors are born. Again, no chemical dyes are used in this process. Instead, different fabric colors are mixed together (like paint) to create entirely new colors through a recycling process.
Manteco has created over 1000 different colors, each with its own “recipe”. And they are good at mixing this color so they can match the customer’s custom color.
It can be difficult to get the perfect mix of different fiber color blends. So to make sure they got it right, we test the recipe on 50 grams of fiber first. Large quantities can be produced.
At this point, the fibers are heavily intertwined. And the first step in making yarn is to orient all the fibers in the same direction. For this, a carding machine is used. It looks like two large brushes combed together. As the fibers pass through, they rearrange themselves so that they all face the same direction.
During this time they also felt the fibers and check the color of the final fabric. This will give you an idea of what the fibers will look like in the final form of the fabric.
Once all the fibers are formed, they are taken to the spinning mill where they are pulled, twisted and made into yarn.
The yarn is then sent to a corning mill. Where, like that sound, rolled in a cone of paper. During this time, quality checks are also carried out to ensure that all threads are uniform and of high quality.
The cones are then sent to a warping plant. In the warping station, the yarn is wound onto the beam of the loom, which eventually becomes the warp of the fabric.
The beam is then sent to a weaving mill where it is put through a loom. And then you can start the weaving process by inserting the weft or weft.
The weave structure of the fabric is fully customizable and can be made to suit your needs.
After the weaving process is over, the greige fabric remains. Processing is usually required to use greige.
Textile finishing is traditionally one of the least environmentally friendly processes in the fabric supply chain. This is because fabrics are often treated with a mixture of chemicals (sometimes carcinogenic).
But Manteco has no chemical process. mechanical only.
These final finishing stages may alter the final appearance of the fabric. There are pile effects, shaggy textures, brushed fabrics, beaver fabrics and even voile wool.
All can be customized according to customer requirements.
only the best quality
The final step is the quality check. After the fabric is inspected internally, small cuts are sent to the customer for approval. If everything is good, it will be shipped to the customer and the apparel will be made.
Did you know that there is waste throughout the wool supply chain? At every step we just mentioned, some of the fiber is lost. Usually these fibers end up in the trash.
But not so with Manteco.
Instead, Manteco works with companies that help recover the fibers lost during the production process. Those waste fibers are then upcycled into recycled wool yarn.
There is a considerable amount of wool fiber waste recovered from this supply chain. Up to 10% of all raw materials processed are reclaimed and used in yarn instead of being thrown away! T
It is estimated that this process saves more than 200,000 kilograms of wool fiber each year. There are so many sweaters that can be made entirely from factory waste!
some sustainable bonuses
“Our headquarters and all warehouses are fully powered by solar panels, so we are completely self-sufficient when it comes to electricity.”
“Water purification is the process of removing chemicals, biological contaminants, suspended solids and gases from wastewater in order to reuse it.
GIDA SPA was established in 1981 to manage the industrial water network wastewater treatment plant of the Manteco system. Through innovative solutions and energy efficiency research and application, the water used in the textile production process is properly treated and returned to the industrial system in the most environmentally friendly way. ”
environmentally friendly packaging
“We know packaging has a huge impact on the planet, so when we ship fabrics, we carefully protect them with packaging made from recycled plastic. Samples are upcycled luxury fabrics. And finally, the company uses QR codes to create information instead of paper prints.”
As a textile sleuth, I had a few questions about recycled wool…
With the second-hand and clothing resale market booming, is there a shortage of clothing to upcycle?
“No. Recycling and second-hand buying are becoming more popular, but there is still no shortage of raw materials.”
Well, my two cents made me feel conflicted in this kind of way. But I’m also like, wow, how much waste are we creating as a planet?
You’ve given me a lot of information about textiles, but why not try knitting as well?
“Yes. We also make knits that look like jersey fabric.”
Ok, this all sounds great. I know a lot of small brands that want to use recycled wool in their product lines. Is there any possibility to accept low MOQ order?
“Yes. This way we keep inventory so that small brands can buy small MOQ. We have a large stock fabric warehouse that holds all quality ready to sample immediately. We have. These fabrics are perfect for use by young designers and small brands.
We also have another warehouse dedicated to schools and universities. Monteco Academy is deeply involved in education, offering webinars and organizing factory tours. There is even a student-only warehouse with over 1,500 types of fabrics. ”
i have to ask. Because I know it’s on the mind of all my clients… Is recycled wool inferior to virgin wool products?
“When you cut a garment, the fibers get a little shorter, and shorter fibers are considered lower quality.
This is true and there is no way around it.
But if you invest in technology and research how to make the process as non-destructive as possible, you’ll get quality fabric. Over the decades, we have also been able to improve our spinning and finishing processes. All the improvements throughout our supply chain have allowed us to make recycled wool fabrics that are just as beautiful as virgin wool.
It is important to remember that the length of the recycled fiber also depends on the fiber you put into your system. Therefore, the longer and higher quality the fibers, the higher quality fabrics can be produced. ”
There is a fine line between upcycling and downcycling. what are you doing?
“We are upcycling. We turn waste into something great. Luxury textiles. Our goal is to make recycled wool and other recycled fabrics as beautiful as virgin material fabrics.” is.
Downcycling companies turn that waste into nonwovens (felt), padding, padding, insulation, and more. ”
Last question. What is one misconception about recycled wool that you want to correct?
Most people think that colors are limited. But we are very good at creating colors, and we can even match them to Pantones!
What do you think?
Please leave a comment below.
And if you’re interested in giving new life to textile waste and incorporating recycled wool and other fibers into your clothing and accessories, are you a small start-up brand? Take a look at our product range of stock fabrics available!