The Northeast Recycling Council (NERC) will hold a one-day symposium on textile recovery entitled “Collecting Textiles: Make It Work for Your Community” on Tuesday, April 2nd at the Nathan Hale Inn & Conference Center at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn.
The goal of the workshop is to provide municipalities, recycling coordinators, colleges and universities, schools, civic groups and the general public with information on the process for setting up local clothing and textile collection programs.
Many of the leaders of the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) will be presenting during the symposium, including the keynote address by the immediate past-President of SMART, Larry Groipen. Mr. Groipen will provide an overview of the clothing and textile recycling and reuse industry, will discuss how those industries operate, and the impact textile recycling has on local municipalities. SMART is the international trade association of the for-profit clothing and textile recycling industry.
“Textiles in the waste stream are a long over-looked resource, with important environmental and socio-economic value,” says Lynn Rubinstein, NERC executive director. “There is a tremendous opportunity to re-use or recycle clothing and textiles that many people don’t realize is available. According to the EPA, currently 85 percent of clothing and textiles that could have been recycled is instead winding up in landfills or incinerators.”
The Environmental Protection Agency also estimates the average American throws away 70-pounds of clothing and textiles annually. This totals more than 25-billion pounds of materials going directly into landfills or incinerators, 95 percent of which could have been reused or recycled. â€œAnyone who wants to learn more about diverting textiles, or how to set-up a program, should plan on attending the ‘Collecting Textiles’ workshop,â€ Rubinstein added.
“People don’t realize clothing that is stained, is out-of-date, or has been torn can be recycled,” says Mr. Groipen. “As long as the items are dry and have no offensive odors, there is a use for them in the textile recycling industry. If they aren’t re-used as clothes, they may be cut into wiping cloths or broken down into their basic fibers to be re-manufactured into new products.”
The workshop also includes welcoming remarks by Mr. Robert Isner, Connecticut DEEP, and Vice President of NERC’s Board of Directors. There will also be a panel discussion on getting to know the available markets for recyclable textiles, and presentations on how to implements clothing recycling in schools districts, at colleges and universities and how to work with municipalities to begin similar programs. In addition to the leaders of SMART, other presenters include a representative of Easter Seals-Goodwill industries of Connecticut and representatives of various companies within the clothing and textile recycling industry.