In addition to sewing new clothes from old fabrics, new techniques are also beginning to emerge to turn old textiles into new materials. 

It is actually a Swedish discovery that has made it possible to melt down clothes and create new fabric.

The chemistry professors Gunnar Henriksson and Mikael Lindström at the Royal Institute of Technology succeeded in breaking down cellulose fibers in cotton with a chemical process. 

- It went fantastically well, I have hardly been involved in a project that has worked in principle as it should from the beginning, says Gunnar Henriksson. 

In 2014, a world news was presented on the catwalk.

Using the chemistry professors' method for recycling cellulose fibers, they had developed the first dress that was made of fibers from old jeans. 

Javascript is disabled

Javascript must be turned on to play video

Read more about browser support

The browser is not supported

SVT does not support playback in your browser.

We therefore recommend that you switch to another browser.

Read more about browser support

Play the clip to see the machine that can make brand new garments from old rags.

Photo: SVT

The sorting has made up for it

The technology to recycle all our clothes is thus available.

The problem is that our old clothes have to be sorted first and it is expensive, complicated and time consuming. 

But maybe not for long.

In Malmö, a project is being conducted with a textile sorting machine. 

- This machine is the first of its kind and we are at the forefront of Sweden here, says Erik Perzon, textile researcher and project manager at IVL Swedish Environmental Institute. 

Together with a municipal waste company, they have started production.

Most clothes are made of mixed materials such as cotton and polyester.

But the factories that work with recycling textiles can only accept already sorted material. 

Infrared light reveals polyester and cotton

With the machine, it becomes easy to use infrared light to identify what the garments consist of in terms of material, whether it is cotton, polyester, wool or different mixtures. 

- This is like we have a small cotton field here in Malmö now suddenly.

Because we produce raw materials for textiles in Sweden, says Erik Perzon. 

The demand for sorted material seems to be great.

You already have orders from different companies both in Europe and here in Sweden. 

Play the clip to see what a pair of recycled jeans can look like and hear how young people are looking at buying new.  

Want to see more about how we can turn old clothes into new ones?

See The World of Science - E-commerce: The shopping of the future on Monday 29 March at 20.00 on SVT2 or on SVT Play.