What is Textile Recycling: All You Need to Know in February 2024
Textile recycling is a waste of non-renewable resources. Textile recycling is the process of reusing textile waste to make new products. It takes textile waste from various sources and sorts it based on its resale value. The waste materials can be processed to create energy, chemicals, and new articles of clothing.
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Typically, textile recycling is separated into pre-consumer and post-consumer waste. Approximately 70 per cent of textile waste is second-hand and is used in new products. Nonwoven materials are recycled into bags and zips. Consumers’ textile waste in the European Union is estimated at 5.8 million tonnes annually.
This is equal to about 11 kg per person. While some textile waste is recycled and sold outside the EU, most is in landfills.
The following companies can help you to recycle your old clothes:
The City of London
Love Your Clothes
The following textiles can be recycled:
- Bed linens (not duvets or pillows)
- Clothing and underwear
- Blankets, towels and curtains
- Handbags, belts and pairs of shoes
Recycling clothes can be part of a closed-loop of recycling:
|processes various types of products of similar material makeup
Focuses on supply chain sustainability.
|Changes the properties of the original material (chemically, through heat etc.)
Created so that all of the materials of manufactured goods can be recycled, generally for use in the same type of product.
|Open-loop recycling may be referred to as downcycling or reprocessing.
common in specialised industries
Focuses on refurbishment (i.e. computers)
A process called “material to material” recycling can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create new materials for production. Companies like Eastman are looking into this technology as a way to reduce their impact on the environment. They have set ambitious sustainability goals for the coming years. For example, by 2025, Eastman plans to recycle 250 million pounds of plastic waste.
The company is also working to become carbon neutral by 2050.
Recycling involves a range of processes and varies by material. Some materials are recycled into new products, while others are sent to be incinerated or converted into energy. Other materials are used to create new products, such as carpets and car seats.
Textile Recycling Recovers Yarn and Fabric
The process of textile recycling involves recovering fibre, yarn or fabric from waste. The amount of waste textiles has increased exponentially in the last 20 years and is expected to reach 146 million metric tons by 2030. Unfortunately, much of that waste ends up in landfills and incinerators. This means that yearly, more than a hundred billion dollars of recyclable fibres are wasted in our waste management systems.
Several different recycling processes are used to recover textile fibres. Most of them are mechanical and chemical. However, some textiles go through a thermal or a polymer process. The final product of these processes is typically a fibre with similar quality to virgin fibres. It involves sorting 350+ kilograms worth of items into over 200 categories.
Textile Recycling and the Textiles Industry
The textile industry is a significant contributor to the global economy. Globally, the production and consumption of clothing continue to rise. However, the current ‘take, make, dispose of’ model of apparel production and disposal is associated with several negative social and environmental impacts.
Textile manufacturing processes are known to use toxic chemicals, create waste, and cause pollution. Textile recycling is a process that recycles textile materials into new products. It involves collecting and sorting textile waste into two categories: pre-consumer waste and post-consumer waste. After sorting, textile waste is processed to create new articles and energy or chemicals.
Most textile waste is separated into pre-consumer and post-consumer categories. Pre-consumer waste comprises about 70% of all textile recycling material. This material includes textiles, bags, zips, and other products formerly used to make new ones.
Textile recycling is an essential aspect of the circular economy. Its primary goal is to recover valuable materials from waste, which can be used for new products. Textile recycling involves recovering these materials by reprocessing them and remanufacturing them. The process is also known as upcycling, in which waste material is turned into a better-quality product or a new, higher-value product.
Textile Recycling – Learn more about UK business waste statistics here
Textile Recycling – Other useful links from our Commercial Waste Centre
How to Dispose and Recycle Catalogues in 2022
Costs of Gallery and Museum Waste Management 2022
A Guide to WEEE Recycling, Costs and Alternatives in the UK
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