For the first time, clothing brands, retailers, consumers, municipalities, charitable organizations, academics and recyclers are joining forces to promote the recycling of clothing and textiles. The Council for Textile Recycling (CTR) recently released its new website aimed at educating the public on the importance of recycling all clothing and textiles, not just those that are “gently worn.”
The new website www.weardonaterecycle.org mirrors the organization’s slogan: Wear. Donate. Recycle. “Our goal is to have zero post-consumer textile waste going into landfills by 2037,” says Eric Stubin, CTR chairman. “In the United States the average person discards 70 pounds of their old clothing, shoes and household textiles in their local landfill each year. We’re educating people that clothing and textiles are among the most recyclable items in their home.”
In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that more than 25 billion pounds of clothing and textiles including clothing, linens, belts, and shoes are generated annually. The agency also reports that more than 21 billion pounds (70 pounds per person) of post-consumer textile waste ends up in landfills every year, with only 15 percent of all post-consumer textiles entering the recycling stream.
“For the first time ever, all segments of the clothing industry, including consumers, manufacturers, charities, retailers, and recyclers have been brought together,” says Stubin. “I am active in many organizations that promote sustainable clothing manufacturing and green initiatives in the apparel industry, and it’s exciting to finally have an organization representing all of the stakeholders as we strive to bring wide-scale awareness to a very solvable problem. If consumers, municipalities and the apparel industry implement, promote, and market ‘Wear. Donate. Recycle,’ we will divert significantly more post consumer textile waste in the years to come.”
Studies conducted at both the federal and state level show that clothing and textiles make up more than 5 percent of all materials going into local landfills. “Consumers don’t realize 95 percent of all clothing and textiles is recyclable,” says Jackie King, executive director of the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) and board member of the Council for Textile Recycling. “As long as items are clean and dry, even those that are stained or torn, they can be processed by textile recyclers, extending the end-of-life of the material.”
The Council for Textile Recycling will be compiling a resource library for consumers, municipalities, apparel and footwear brands and retailers interested in developing clothing and footwear recycling programs. A database of end-users including charities and private sector recyclers from all aspects of the industry will also be available to members.
The Council for Textile Recycling is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, tax exempt organization incorporated in the State of Maryland. The CTR is not involved in the collection of textile waste in any form and is entirely devoted to creating more awareness about keeping post-consumer textile waste out of our solid waste stream.