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The Basics of Textile Recycling

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Update time : 2019-06-12 15:03:46
Growth of Textile Recycling Promises to Divert More Material from Landfills

What Is Textile Recycling?

Textile recycling is the process by which old clothing and other textiles are recovered for reuse or material recovery. It is the basis for the textile recycling industry. In the United States, this group is represented by SMART, the Association of Wiping Materials, Used Clothing and Fiber Industries. 

The necessary steps in the textile recycling process involve the donation, collection, sorting and processing of textiles, and then subsequent transportation to end users of used garments, rags or other recovered materials.

The basis for the growing textile recycling industry is, of course, the textile industry itself. The textile industry has evolved into a $1 trillion industry globally, comprising clothing, as well as furniture and mattress material, linens, draperies, cleaning materials, leisure equipment, and many other items.
 
The Urgency to Recycle Textiles

The importance of recycling textiles is increasingly being recognized. Over 80 billion garments are produced annually, worldwide. According to U.S. EPA, around 16 million tons of textile municipal solid waste (MSW) was generated in 2015, about 6.1% of total MSW generation. 

The rate for textiles derived from clothing and footwear was 14.2%, while the recovery for sheets and pillowcases was 16.3% for the same year. As such, textile recycling is a significant challenge to be addressed as we strive to move closer to a zero landfill society.

Once in landfills, natural fibers can take hundreds of years to decompose. They may release methane and CO2 gas into the atmosphere. Additionally, synthetic textiles are designed not to decompose. In the landfill, they may release toxic substances into groundwater and surrounding soil.

Textile recycling offers the following environmental benefits:

1.Decreases landfill space requirements, bearing in mind that synthetic fiber products do not decompose and that natural fibers may release greenhouse gasses
2.Avoided use of virgin fibers
3.Reduced consumption of energy and water
4.Pollution avoidance
5.Lessened demand for dyes.