When we mention recycling 100% natural fibre, e.g. cotton denim jeans, into paper, we are frequently asked how we know whether or not donated fabric is suitable for recycling into paper.
The truth is, at first glance, we don’t know. Textiles are so sophisticated, that any clothing or textiles without manufacturing labels to identify it, must be checked to determine whether or not it is 100% natural fibre.
The easiest method is to conduct a quick “burn test”. This is how to do it. Adults, or under adult supervision, only please!
- Conduct your “burn test” in a wind still area on a surface where the flames can’t spread and where you won’t set off any alarms, e.g. your BBQ area.
- Use a large clean glass or metal ashtray as testing surface.
- Cut a small 3cm square piece of the textile, place it in the ashtray and set the textile alight. Synthetic fabrics often tend to ‘flare up’ when it is lit.
- After the textile has been burnt and the ashes have cooled, rub the ashes between your fingers.
- If only ashes remain, the fabric is most likely 100% natural fibre, but if small hard bits are found amongst the ashes, the fabric almost certainly contains synthetics which means the textile should be avoided for papermaking.