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Consideration of Balers / Recycling Equipment for Textiles and Clothing


Textiles - Clothing - <Click Here for Various Balers & Bale Weights for Textiles & Clothing>


Textiles and fabrics such as linen, cotton, denim, wool, flannel, nylon, and fleece are a part of our environments at both work and home. From the clothes we wear to bedding and bath towels or carpets and window drapes, unwanted and un-usable textile materials are one of the easiest items to recycle or re-use. Many non-profit organizations and community groups are interested in collecting older clothing and home-goods for charitable purposes, so there is little reason why your unwanted textiles should end up with other waste materials and garbage in the landfill!

Some facts about textile and clothing waste generation and recycling:

     Textiles make up slightly more than 5% of the total solid waste stream for municipalities.

     In 2011, over 13 million tons of textile waste was generated but only two million tons of that total was recovered for recycling and re-use.

     On average, close to 14% of all unwanted clothing and shoes, and close to 18% of textiles such as towels and bedding, are donated or recycled.

What happens to collected and recycled clothing and textiles?

One of the most important things to remember about recycling unwanted clothing and textiles is to keep the materials dry and free of any dampness. Once items become wet or soiled they can no longer be re-used or sold as they will develop a mildew smell. Many charity organizations provide metal drop-boxes that are enclosed and weather-proof, but placing items scheduled for donation in a plastic bag is the best way to preserve their value.

Once waste textiles are brought to a recovery facility, they are separated into different categories depending on the material they are made up of. Clothes and fabrics made of cotton are frequently recycled to be used in high-quality paper products as well as cleaning materials such as dust cloths or rope mops. Cotton that cannot be re-used is frequently composted with other organic materials such as food scraps and yard waste. Textiles made of wool are often pulled apart and used in car insulation or furniture padding. Other styles of fabric can frequently be re-sold and remanufactured into building insulation, furniture upholstery, and environmental friendly construction and building materials. Even old, “ugly” carpeting such as shag rugs from the 1970s can be re-purposed into new, modern looking designs!

The benefits of recycling textiles

There are three major benefits that happen when you make the decision to recycle textiles and clothing:

  1.  Your donation of usable clothing and household textiles helps charitable agencies serve those in need.

  2.  It reduces your overall solid waste contribution to landfills, which reduces greenhouse gasses.

  3.  By increasing the amount of recycled material, youhelp create jobs in the green-friendly business sector.

Here are three examples of successful municipal textile waste recycling programs:

   New York City’s Re-fashioNYC recycling program has helped businesses and residents divert more than one million pounds of waste textiles from landfills while providing employment opportunities sorting and preparing for re-sale donated materials.

   The town of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania has established a successful partnership with Community Recycling, a non-profit textile recycling organization, for collecting and distributing unwanted clothing and accessories to social service agencies, homeless shelters, and welfare to work programs. Residents in Philadelphia have also approved a similar arrangement for their curb-side waste and recycling collection program.

   The village of Queen Creek, Arizona has collaborated with United Fibers, a Southwestern manufacturer, to re-sell collected fibers to make insulation. The proceeds from selling the unwanted clothes is donated to the community’s Boys and Girls Club.

How to get started with textile and clothing recycling

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has collected data that shows improving and increasing diversion rates for textiles will have one of the greatest impacts on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and can have an impact similar to removing more than million cars from roads in the US. The organization SMART (Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles), is available to assist municipalities, businesses, and concerned citizens learn more about the opportunities for textile recycling. Whether you’re familiar with recycling or just starting out, their resources can help you to develop a successful strategy that will effectively increase your waste diversion levels.

Textiles are one of the “greenest” waste materials you can recycle.  Clothing and fabrics can be recycled and re-used several times over in the manufacturing of new clothing, carpeting, fabrics, and building materials. If your business tosses old textiles into the garbage, you are losing valuable dollars! Take a look into re-selling or donating those unwanted materials to a charitable group and you’ll see how easy it can be to “go green” and “save green” at the same time!

 Contributor / Editor - Matt Kennedy - Refer questions to info@wastecare.com

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