Australia leads the world in contamination-free cotton due to a number of factors including the careful ways it's grown, machine picked, ginned and shipped. Spinning mills love to source low-contaimination cotton because it not only produces high quality, fault-free yarns, but also greatly reduces stoppages and breakages during the spinning process.
The International Textile Manufacturers Federation (ITMF) 2005-2016 Cotton Contamination Survey, shows Australia is ranked number one on the list of the least contaminated cotton origins. This is an improvement from Australia’s sixth placed ranking in the last survey in 2013 and the great result has been achieved during a period when our industry has moved predominantly to round modules.
In an effort to shed more light on spinners’ perceptions of the problem of cotton contamination and foreign matter, the ITMF has conducted regular surveys since 1982 with spinning mills affiliated to its world-wide membership. In the 2016 report, 90 spinning mills located in 22 countries evaluated 71 different cotton growths.
For decades, spinners have produced evidence of all kinds of foreign matter found inside cotton bales which could often be eliminated by hand if spinning was still largely a labour-intensive processing technology. Following extensive modernisation of production equipment in recent years, processing steps which previously required the intervention of manual labour are increasingly performed by machines. The trend towards automation in textile manufacturing is not limited to any particular geographical area and will gain further momentum in the years to come.
The biggest problem which automation presents for cotton relates to cleanliness. Automated equipment can detect and eliminate contamination or foreign matter only to a limited degree. In the case of plastic material - one of the most vicious forms of contamination - the damage often becomes visible only by the time the fabric leaves the final finishing process, at which stage it is too late to apply any remedy.
It is not only affecting the quality and appearance of the final textile product, but may actually damage the processing machinery itself. By accumulating evidence of contamination and foreign matter at regular intervals, ITMF helps cotton producers, merchants and spinners to better identify problem areas and thus contribute towards their eradication.