So the important question is: why recycle textiles? The global issues surrounding the environment and the contentious use of landfill has never been more prominent and I&G Cohen are determined to divert as much textile waste as possible from landfill sites.Did You Know?
Over 1 million tonnes of textiles are thrown away every year mostly from domestic sources, of which only 25% are recycled.
Textiles represent between 3% - 5% of household waste.
Estimates for arising of textile waste vary between 550,000 - 900,000 tonnes each year.
Recycling textiles can save up to 15 times the energy recoverable by incineration.
Textiles make up 12% of landfill sites
In one year discarded clothing would fill Old Trafford Football Stadium
If everyone in the UK bought one reclaimed woollen garment each year, it would save an average of 371 million gallons of water, (the average UK reservoir holds about 300 million gallons) and 480 tonnes of chemical dyestuffs- (source: evergreen)
There are about 6,000 textile banks nationwide, but clothes banks are only operating at about 25% capacity
Over 70% of the world's population use second hand clothes
Discarded clothing and shoes are typically sent to landfill. Textiles present particular problems in landfill. Synthetic (man-made fibres) products do not decompose. Woollen garments do decompose, but in doing so they produce methane, which contributes to global warming and climate change. This is an ominous warning which only highlights the importance of recycling in textiles.What are the benefits of recycling?
When asking why recycle textiles there are further benefits that extend outside the immediate environmental positives. Recycling in textiles in the UK provides an affordable source of clothing to disadvantaged people in the developing world and emerging countries in Eastern Europe. In many of these countries it also provides the basis of economic growth by providing employment for much of the population.
Alan Wheeler of the Textile Recycling Association confirms this when he says this "clothing recycling is not only good for the environment, but also that it has an important social and economic role to play. The benefits extend to the UK where we estimate that private textile reclamation businesses employ around 5 - 10,000 people, with a further 9,500 employed in UK charity shops. The public and politicians should be fully aware of the crucial contributions this industry makes to the world economy and sustainable development."
Our work at I&G also provides a help to local authorities and local communities. For example local councils such as Gateshead Council currently pay about Â£30 for every tonne of material sent to landfill. If we multiply this by waste produced by Gateshead residents' last year, then the 115,000 tonnes of gives a waste disposal bill of over Â£2 million pounds. We can help these local councils save money particularly during this current economic climate by diverting textile waste from landfill and therefore cutting local councilâ€™s waste expenditure.
On a positive note according to DEFRA, in 2008-9 the total waste collected from the UK's 25m households dropped slightly to 24.3m tonnes. Of this, 9.1m tonnes were recycled. Almost all of the remainder went to landfill. A DEFRA spokesman claims, "We can't keep on sending textile waste to landfill, People are already reducing the amount of waste they produce, and are reusing and recycling more, and we are working hard to increase this,"What Can I Do?
Take your used clothes to a textile recycling bank. Contact the recycling officer in your local authority if there are no banks in your area and ask why not? They may collect textiles through other means.
Or next time one of our care2collect bags comes through your door put some of your unwanted clothing in and we will happily collect your used goods, averting textile waste from landfill whilst working on behalf of a number of worthwhile charities.