Is Textile Recycling
the Wave of the
Future?

Because so many people are now concerned with recycling and reusing, there is even a process to reuse parts of your clothing in order to design and make other products. Simply put, textile recycling is the process of taking the yarn, fiber, or some of the fabric from an article of clothing that already exists and making something else out of it. The process is easier than you think and, there are numerous facilities across the country devoted to this endeavor.

Mass Production Has Resulted in Lots of Waste

When clothing manufacturers produce massive amounts of clothes, a lot of trees are destroyed, which is why there is now an emphasis on trying to reuse some of these materials and make them into other types of clothing. In fact, many stores across the country now boast that they offer clothing items that are at least partially made out of recycled materials, which is important to a large percentage of their customers.

When it comes to textile recycling, there are two main types of reusable wastes:

Pre-consumer waste, which consists of waste produced at the very beginning of the manufacturing process and is normally recycled into products for industries such as the home-building, furniture, and even the automotive sector.

Post-consumer waste, which includes discarded clothing items that are generally recycled and are usually either discarded in the landfills or used by second-hand retailers to be purchased by other consumers.

Some larger, more well-known companies are now concentrating on reusing the materials from the products they sell, including companies such as The North Face. In addition, stores such as Goodwill Industries and The Salvation Army do a great job of offering second-hand clothing items to customers, which does helps to keep these items out of the landfills.

A Sometimes Complex Process

The process to gather and reuse textile materials involves several different steps including donating it, collecting it, sorting it, and processing it. Each step has its own “do”s and “don’t”s and there are now companies whose sole purpose is to assist in one of them. CheckSammy is one of them and offers a Residential Reuse Program to assist property managers with sorting their occupants items. In fact, in the U.S. there is even an organization that represents the textile recycling business and it is known as SMART (Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles association).

If you’re curious about why the recycling of textiles is so important, consider this statistic: the clothing business is now a $1 trillion business globally and that’s a lot of clothing and materials that can be potentially discarded and wasted. For this and many other reasons, discovering new uses for textiles is of utmost importance in today’s world.

Worldwide, more than 80 billion articles of clothing are produced each year so the more we can successfully find ways to recycle some of that clothing, the better off the world will be. Because much of these textiles can take hundreds of years to decompose, keeping as many of them as possible out of landfills is a major concern for many companies.

In addition, many synthetic materials are unable to decompose and may even release toxic gases including methane and CO2. These gases can seep into nearby soil and water, making them especially dangerous.

Many Different Ways to Recycle Textiles

Just how is textile recycling handled? The simple answer is: in a number of ways. The most common way to recycle textiles is the mechanical way, which includes mostly textiles made totally or partially out of cotton. In this process, the materials are sorted, shredded, and separated into fibers. Next, a process called carding, which consists of aligning and spinning the materials, is implemented; afterwards, they are spun with another type of material, most commonly polyester.

There are other methods of recycling textiles, including a chemical process that usually involves working with synthetic materials. While the mechanical process is most often used to make plastic items such as bottles and other PET products, the chemical process is usually associated with products that include other textile products.

There are also many different ways to sort these materials before deciding what to do with them next.  Multi-Tenant buildings can take advantage of CheckSammy SmartBINS for easy collection.   Other options include sorting, second-hand exporting, making a variety of polishing and wiping cloths, and, of course, using them to create other articles of clothing. The smallest market consists of those companies in search of finer materials such as Italian leather and French couture, including companies such as Ralph Lauren and Levi’s.

Conclusion

Textile recycling includes not only clothing items but also final products such as upholstery, curtains, mattress filling, and even cleaning equipment, among others. These days, there is an urgency in finding ways to recycle textiles so that fewer articles of clothing end up in the landfills and the world is definitely on the right track. Many clothing companies have implemented programs that utilize the recycling process and therefore put an emphasis on it, which can go a long way in a process that is much needed today.