A blog from Restore Shred.
New textile mountain range discovered in Chilean desert…
OK, so that’s not quite true. But it is true that there’s a 100,000-tonne fast fashion landfill dump in Chile’s once pristine Atacama Desert that’s doing a pretty good impersonation of a mountain range.
This was in the news around Christmas and offered a shocking insight into some of the costs of fast fashion. Apparently, the garments are manufactured in China and Bangladesh, destined for the US market. Many of the items still have their labels on but have already reached the end of their shelf life after just a few weeks. They are ‘old’ stock.
Europe does not get off scot-free, either. In a recent survey from sustainable menswear fashion label, LABFRESH, figures reveal that every year in the UK we produce 206,456 tonnes of textile waste. Each of us throws away 3.1kg of textiles, of which 1.7kg go straight to landfill, and 0.3kg are recycled. Italy has the dubious honour of being the ‘least sustainable’ European country in terms of fashion waste, with its very own textile mountain of 465,925 tonnes thrown away every year. Textile recycling rates are low, averaging at around 10% across the European countries surveyed, including the UK.
It doesn’t have to be like this!
Textiles are hugely energy- and resource-intensive to manufacture. Products include fast fashion, prototypes and samples, fake and counterfeit goods, marketing materials and uniforms – garments that all carry the need to maintain a security cordon around them to avoid scammers and fraudsters from misusing them. Yet none of these need to go to landfill because many can be recycled – either by re-using the garments through the second-hand trade or re-using the materials from which they are manufactured.
With sustainability no longer a ‘nice to have’, but rather an essential item on any company’s agenda, recycling your stocks of textiles brings massive benefits to the world about us, as well as to your ESG goals, and your business reputation.
The benefits of textile recycling
– reduces the need for landfill space
– reduces pressure on resources (people, fossil fuels…)
– reduces pollution
– reduces water and energy consumption
– reduces the use of chemical pollutants (dyes and fixers)
– reduces the risk of fraud or misrepresentation
What can be recycled?
Whole garments or items
Natural fibres, such as wool, cotton and silk (!)
Synthetic textiles such as polyester, nylon, rayon, and so on
Mixed natural/synthetic fibres
How does textile recycling work?
A shredding company will sort textiles into natural and synthetic materials, by colour and whether there are buttons, zips or any decorations to remove. Colour-sorted textiles will mean no-redyeing is needed, thus saving energy, water and avoiding the use of further pollutants. Once shredded, textiles have a number of different routes and destinations to being recycled, with several types of benefits.
–> Natural materials that are shredded and pulled into fibres and then spun into eco-yarns can be used in weaving and knitting into textiles for re-manufacture.
–> Some knitted or woven woollen materials are shredded, compressed and re-used for car insulation, roofing felt, panel linings and furniture padding, for example.
–> Polyester-based textiles are shredded and then granulated for processing into polyester chips. These chips are subsequently melted and used to create new fibres for new polyester fabrics.
–> And, finally, for textiles whose fibres or constituent parts cannot be reclaimed, they are shredded, dried, baled and sent for further processing to become refuse-derived fuel, ie, they are burned to produce electricity.
We are serious about shredding and caring for the environment, so for all your textile shredding needs, make us your first stop.
1. As a part of our textile shredding service, we guarantee that we will not send any textile shreds to landfill but, instead, will ensure they are all sent for recycling here in the UK.
2. We’re accredited to operate at high security levels, so will protect your textiles, whether they are overs, old stock, fast fashion, slow fashion, uniforms, eg, medical, security guards, armed forces, ensuring they are safe from fraud and scams associated with identity and intellectual property theft.