Textile recycling is the method of
reusing or reprocessing used clothing, fibrous
scraps from the manufacturing process. Textiles
in municipal solid waste are found mainly
in discarded clothing, although other sources
include furniture, carpets, tires, footwear,
and nondurable goods such as sheets and
For consumers the most common way of
recycling textiles is reuse through reselling
or donating to charity (Goodwill Industries,
Salvation Army, etc.) However certain communities
in the United States have been accepting
textiles in curbside pickup since 1990.
The textiles must be clean and dry for them
to be accepted being recycled. Some companies,
such as Patagonia, an outdoor clothing and
gear company, accept their product back
Textile reuse is not classified as "recycling"
by the United
States Environmental Protection Agency
because the reused garments and wiper rags
re-enter the waste stream eventually, so
these techniques are classified as a diversion
and not recovery for recycling estimates.
After collection of the textiles workers
sort and separate collected textiles into
good quality clothing and shoes which can
be reused or worn.
Conversion to rags
Damaged textiles are sorted to make industrial
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If textile re-processors receive wet
or soiled clothes however, these may still
end up being disposed of in landfill, as
the washing and drying facilities are not
present at sorting units.
Clothing and fabric generally consists
of composites of cotton (biodegradable material)
and synthetic plastics. The textile's composition
will affect its durability and method of
Fiber reclamation mills grade incoming
material into type and color. The color
sorting means no re-dying has to take place,
saving energy and pollutants. The textiles
are shredded into "shoddy" fibers
and blended with other selected fibers,
depending on the intended end use of the
recycled yarn. The blended mixture is
carded to clean and mix the fibers and
spun ready for weaving or knitting. The
fibers can also be compressed for mattress
production. Textiles sent to the flocking
industry are shredded to make filling material
for car insulation, roofing felts, loudspeaker
cones, panel linings and furniture padding.
For specialized polyester based materials
the recycling process is significantly different.
The first step is to remove the buttons
and zippers then to cut the garments into
small pieces. The shredded fabric is then
granulated and formed into small pellets.
The pellets are broken down polymerized
and turned into polyester chips. The chips
are melted and spun into new filament fiber
used to make new polyester fabrics.
Some companies are creating new pieces
of clothing from scraps of old clothes.
By combining and making new additions, the
eclectic garments are marketed as a type