Textile reuse and recycling

Posted 10/19/22

NEW YORK STATE — Residents and businesses donate, recycle or sell used clothing and other textiles through charitable organizations, reuse centers, community drop-off bins and online or …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Textile reuse and recycling


NEW YORK STATE — Residents and businesses donate, recycle or sell used clothing and other textiles through charitable organizations, reuse centers, community drop-off bins and online or brick-and-mortar consignment shops.

That’s great! But did you know that every year, New York State residents and businesses throw away almost 1.4 billion pounds of textiles, including clothing, footwear, belts, hats, handbags, drapes, towels, sheets and other linens that could be reused or recycled?

In the United States, textile waste is one of the fastest-growing waste streams; the average person throws away 81 pounds of clothing each year.

While we recycle around 15 percent of post-consumer textiles, that means 85 percent of our used clothing and other textiles are ending up as waste in landfills and incinerators.

The majority of these materials can be reused or recycled, providing social, environmental and economic benefits.

The secondhand market for textiles has been growing rapidly, and there are new outlets too, like online consignment shops and reused gear shops for outerwear and gear, etc.

The benefits of reusing and recycling textiles

Environmentally, textile recycling decreases the number of valuable materials going to landfills and incinerators. It reduces greenhouse gases; greenhouse gas emissions from textile production total 1.2 billion metric tons of CO2-equivalent gas. That’s more than emissions from international flights and maritime shipping combined.

Recycling saves natural resources, including water and petroleum; and reduces toxins from pesticides, herbicides, dyes and other harsh chemicals used in textile production. Cotton, for example, is the most pesticide-dependent crop in the world.

There are many economic benefits too. Textile recycling creates jobs. The potential market value of all these discarded materials is almost $130 million. If these materials were recovered for reuse and recycling, instead of being thrown away, that would create over 1,000 jobs.

Keeping used textiles out of the trash reduces disposal costs for local governments, businesses and residents.

Recycling allows valuable materials to remain in the supply chain to create sustainable products.

What can I donate?

It is estimated that 95 percent of all used clothing, footwear and other cloth household products—such as sheets, towels, curtains and pillowcases—can be recycled.

Even if items are torn, stained, are missing buttons,  have broken zippers, etc., the fabric can still be recycled. As long as the items are dry and free of oil, grease and odor—not stained with solvents such as gasoline—the textiles can be recycled.

Items can be any style, age or condition. Even stained or torn items can be recycled, but remember—they need to be dry.

Where can I take my textiles for reuse and recycling?

You can bring your reusable and recyclable clothing to:

local charities

drop-off bins that are located throughout your community

private clothing recyclers

the local transfer station

special textile recycling events

Call first to make sure the facility is collecting.

You can also go to website of the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling (see url at end of article) for more locations.

What happens to the textiles?

Nearly 100 percent of donated textiles are reused and recycled!

45 percent are reused as clothing.

20 percent are recycled into fibers.

30 percent are reused as wiping cloths.

What can’t I donate?

No rugs, carpeting or items stained with blood or grease/oil, or items that are moldy.

Source: New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/100141.html

recycling, textile waste, textile recycling


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here