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General Recycled gives new life to FR industrial workwear

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General Recycled (GR) is renowned for recycling Flame Resistant (FR) garments from the industrial workwear marketplace and turns them into recycled FR fabrics and garments.

Based in Vancouver, British Columbia, General Recycled (GR) was created to deal with the growing problem of non-biodegradable Flame Resistant (FR) garments being disposed of in landfills.

GR’s unique recycling process and resulting recycled FR fabric and garments provide the industry with a viable recycling option by simply transferring companies’ current logistical and environmental costs onto General Recycled. This process comes at no additional cost to “end users” and achieves an improved level of safety performance for companies’ comparable FR garment programs.  

Inherently flame resistant Aramids

Aromatic polyamide (aramids) are a textile fibre patented by DuPont in the 1960s. Aramids are inherently flame resistant and the creation of this patent fundamentally changed the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) marketplace, specifically the FR protective clothing available to workers who are exposed to FR hazards. There are several different types of FR fabrics on the market today that are produced under the brand names of Nomex, Kevlar, Kermel, Conex, Twaron, as well as many different generic aramid fibres and fabrics.  

Specific aramid fabrics are chosen based on the job at hand and the level of protection required. For example, not only are some companies concerned with protection against “flash fire”, but in many cases, they also require protection against an electrical “arc flash.”  Both types of hazards can be at risk simultaneously and any fabric that protects against both hazards at the same time has an advantage. 

Aramids are 100% non-biodegradable.  

Even if aramid garments were to break down, the residual chemicals released in the landfill would be toxic. The aramid chemical structure is the Benzene Ring, which should eliminate incineration as an option for disposal due to the potential release of toxic chemicals into the atmosphere.  

Manufacturing process

GR works with “end users” and their respective manufacturers by accepting FR garments that have come to the end of their life cycle and are ready to be disposed of. Once “cleaned” garments have been received at the warehouse in Leduc Alberta or Val-des-Sources Quebec, they are stripped of any metal zippers, snaps, etc, which are recycled. The garments are then sent for shredding at the GR shredding facility in Quebec. As garments are shredded back into fibre, this is then blended with GR’s “Patented” proprietary blend of virgin fibre so that this can be spun into recycled yarn.  

At the yarn stage, GR is able to weave and/or knit recycled aramid fabrics that have a 15-50% post-consumer composition into the final products, depending on the type of fabric produced. GR strives to work within the value chain to supply recycled FR yarn/fabric, allowing the manufacturer of choice to continue to supply FR garments uninterrupted.    

In most cases, recycling costs are not new costs to the end-users. Rather, they are costs already being incurred by companies prior to disposal, i.e: contaminated garments require cleaning prior to disposal, labour cost, warehousing, not to mention waste management contracts for disposal bins. These costs are directly related to a PPE program and can be worked into the price of recycled fabric and/or a recycled garment program. 

GR has the capacity to recycle garments and manufacture FR fabrics across Canada, the USA, Mexico, the EU and beyond.       

General Recycled’s recycled FR fabric and garments have been 3rd party independently tested with Groupe CTT in Quebec, Kinectrics in Ontario, Arc Wear in the USA, and with the Protective Clothing & Equipment Research Facility (PCERF) at the University of Alberta. These are only four of a few certified testing facilities in North America for FR fabrics and apparel. All of GR recycled fabrics meet, at a minimum, the necessary flash fire and arc flash protection requirements i.e: CGSB 155.20, NFPA 2112, NFPA 70E PPE2 (HRC2).

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