- It is an established fact that people buy more clothing per person per year than 10 years ago.
- It is also a fact that we do not keep garments for as long anymore due to various reasons, low quality being but one.
- Conclusion: we throw textiles away at such a rate that we are smothering the earth in it!
The obvious solution is to Reduce, Re-use, and Recycle. Having already discussed the first two “R’s”, we now focus on recycling.
Textiles being sorted at a recycling factory in Malaysia
Both natural and synthetic textiles can, and should be recycled.
While natural fibres are bio-degradable and will decompose in landfill over time, the chemical processes items have gone through can release harmful substances such as heavy metals into the environment. Synthetics, on the other hand, never decompose, so they sit around forever, releasing toxic gases and methane.
Apparel is cut up for turning into industrial cleaning cloths
Cotton & silk can be used to make wiping cloths for a range of industries from automotive to mining, and for use in paper manufacture.
Fibre reclamation mills grade incoming natural textiles into type and colour. The colour sorting means no re-dying has to take place, saving energy and pollutants. The textiles are shredded into “shoddy” fibres and blended with other selected fibres, depending on the intended end use of the recycled yarn. The blended mixture is carded (disentangled, cleaned and intermixed to produce a continuous web) and spun ready for weaving or knitting. Fibres can also be compressed for mattress production.
Textile grade polyester chips
In the case of polyester-based textiles, garments are shredded and then granulated, and processed into polyester chips. These are subsequently melted and used to create new fibres for use in new polyester fabrics.
Insulation material made out of recycled cotton – mostly jeans
Unwearable clothing can be sold to the ‘flocking’ industry to be shredded for fillers in car insulation, roofing felts, loudspeaker cones, panel linings, furniture padding, etc.
So you see, no textile needs to go to waste.