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Making new from old: upcycling!


eco loco


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Have you ever heard the quote “Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed”? Or the expression 'You can't make something new out of old'?

In fact, suprarecycling meets the first quote and contradicts the second. It is a relatively new term that emerged in the mid-1990s and often goes by other common names such as upcycling, upcycling , trancycling and recycling. In 2011, the Quebec language office of the French language ruled on “suprarecycling” as recognized terminology.

Suprarecycling is the action of recovering materials or products whose primary use is no longer desired or possible and transforming them into something new and of greater utility. We therefore recycle ''from the top''.

We notice an undeniable aspect of suprarecycling at the ecological level. Instead of throwing away an object that has not necessarily reached the end of its life, we revalorize it by allowing it to be transformed and used again while being of higher quality than the original material.

Most DIY projects are inspired by upcycling and are very trendy. Pinterest is an endless source of inspiration for these types of projects. This can also affect art, construction materials, upholstery... This trend is also seen at the clothing level, either at the level of creative artisans but also at the level of larger companies.

Upcycling and textiles

suprarecycling and textiles

In terms of clothing, it can mainly be translated in 3 very distinct ways. The first is to use scraps, also called fabric scraps, which would most likely go straight to the garbage disposal. They are used, for example, to make new clothes or to make other utility tools such as dishcloths, rags, reusable snack bags, etc.

The second way of upcycling will be to take clothes from the same textile and subject them to a defibration process. Defibering therefore consists of extracting the fiber from a fabric which is found, for example, in clothing to design a new textile. Clothing made from similar raw materials is shredded, the fibers are then re-spun and new, brand-new textiles are created.

This second way of doing suprarecycling is similar to the process of creating recycled polyester. However, this involves taking plastic bottles that end up in recycling centers and transforming them into recycled polyester through an extrusion and spinning process.

The third technique instead consists of taking clothes, recovering the parts that are still good and making new clothes from the recovered pieces. For example, an eco-designer or a recycler could take pieces of several items of clothing that are still in very good condition to create a new, completely different item of clothing. He can add pieces of new fabric to complete the whole thing. The clothes created in this way become unique pieces.

How does textile suprarecycling translate into Quebec?

According to Recyc-Québec , a Quebecer purchases on average 27 kg of textiles per year and throws away 24 kg... There is therefore no shortage of possibilities to upcycle clothing here!

Certain infrastructures have been put in place to prevent clothes from ending up directly in the garbage. Examples of this are companies like Ekotex or the charity Certex . Both are clothing sorting centers where the reuse of raw materials is aimed and in which it is, among other things, possible for an eco-designer to source textiles.


Fiber removal companies are also available in the province. However, they mainly focus on padding and insulation products and very little on the creation of textiles for clothing use. Research groups are trying to maximize the defibration process and reconstitute high-quality textiles in order to make it more economically viable and to ensure the quality of the resulting textiles. In the country, there are a multitude of eco-designers who practice upcycling using one or more of the techniques named above.

Despite all the great initiatives available to us as consumers, despite knowing that textile fibers are both recyclable and reusable and already having certain facilities in place to do so, it is estimated that 85% of all consumed fabric ends up in the trash. This brings us back to the basic ecological concept that must be prioritized over others: THE REDUCTION of our consumption.

Ecologically yours,

eco loco


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