Recycled wool

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A pile of recycled wool.

Recycled wool, rag wool or shoddy is any woollen textile or yarn made by shredding existing fabric and re-spinning the resulting fibres. Textile recycling is an important mechanism for reducing the need for raw wool in manufacturing.

Shoddy was invented by Benjamin Law of Batley in 1813.[1][2] It was the dominant industry of many neighbouring towns in the West Riding of Yorkshire, known as the Heavy Woollen District, throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries.[3][4][5][6] Following its decline in the United Kingdom, the centre of the shoddy trade shifted to the city of Panipat in India.[7][8] Efforts have been made to revive the British recycled wool industry in recent years.[9]

Terminology[edit]

Historically, recycled wool products were called rag wool. Manufacturers distinguished between three main categories of rag wool:[3]

  • Shoddy – made from loosely woven or "soft" textiles that could be pulled apart relatively easily;
  • Mungo – made from "hard" fabrics such as felts, that were harder to disintegrate but resulted in a finer product;
  • Extract – made from the wool portion of cotton/wool blended fabrics.

In practice, few outside the industry were aware of these distinctions, even when rag wool was widely used.[3][10] The common name was shoddy, which became a generalised term for poor quality goods.[3] It is still used as a technical term for recycled wool within the industry.

Regulators in the United States make a distinction between reprocessed wool, which is made from manufactured wool products that were never used by the consumer, and reused wool, which the consumer has used.[11] Other bodies refer to these as pre-consumer and post-consumer waste material.[12]

The terms virgin wool and new wool are used to distinguish newly-produced, never-used wool from shoddy.[2]: 13 

References[edit]

  1. ^ Jubb, Samuel (1860). The History of the Shoddy-trade: Its Rise, Progress, and Present Position. London: Houlston and Wright.
  2. ^ a b Shell, Hanna Rose (2020). Shoddy: From Devil's Dust to the Renaissance of Rags. Chicago: University of Chicago. pp. 19–35. ISBN 9780226377759.
  3. ^ a b c d Malin, John Christopher (1979). The West Riding recovered wool industry, ca. 1813–1939 (PhD thesis). University of York.
  4. ^ Hudson, Pat (11 April 2002). The Genesis of Industrial Capital: A Study of West Riding Wool Textile Industry, C.1750-1850. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521890892.
  5. ^ Clapham, J. H. (20 December 2018). Revival: The Woollen and Worsted Industries (1907). Routledge. ISBN 9781351342483.
  6. ^ Clapp, B. W. (15 July 2014). An Environmental History of Britain since the Industrial Revolution. Routledge. ISBN 9781317893035.
  7. ^ "Panipat, the global centre for recycling textiles, is fading". The Economist. 7 September 2017. ISSN 0013-0613. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  8. ^ "In Panipat, the world's 'castoff capital', business hangs by a thread". hindustantimes.com/. 28 April 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  9. ^ "Evergreen: From shoddy manufacture to textile recycling". ENDS Report. Retrieved 24 March 2019.
  10. ^ "A City of Honest Imposture". All the Year Round. 5 (25): 441. 8 April 1871.
  11. ^ Robert E. Freer. "The Wool Products Labeling Act of 1939." Archived 2016-06-05 at the Wayback Machine Temple Law Quarterly. 20.1 (July 1946). p. 47. Reprinted at ftc.gov. Retrieved 1 May 2016.
  12. ^ "Recycled Wool: A Primer for Newcomers & Rediscoverers". European Outdoor Group. 13 April 2018. Retrieved 24 March 2019.