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Textile recycling

Textile recycling is the method of reusing or reprocessing used clothing, fibrous material and clothing 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 towels.


Textiles and leather recycling categories

  • Cotton Recycling
  • Wool Recycling
  • Burlap, Jute and Sisal Recycling
  • Polyurethane Foam Recycling
  • Polyester and Polyester Fiber Recycling
  • Nylon and Nylon Fiber Recycling
  • Other Synthetic Fiber Recycling
  • Carpet Recycling
  • Rags and Wipers
  • Used and Recycled Bags
  • Used Clothing
  • Used Footwear
  • Leather Recycling
  • Textile Recycling Employment
  • Other Textile Waste

Textile collection

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.

Some companies, such as Patagonia, an outdoor clothing and gear company, accept their product back for recycling.[1]


Textile reuse is not classified as "recycling" by the United States EPA 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 wiping cloths



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. [2]


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 recycling.

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.[3]

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.[4]

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 of style.


Year Percent of textile recovered
1960 2.8%
1980 6.3%
2005 15.3%


  1. ^ Patagonia Common Threads Garment Recycling
  2. ^ Councils "need to understand" importance of textile quality,, Retrieved 24.11.06
  3. ^
  4. ^ Common Threads Garment Recycling
  5. ^ EPA. Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2003.
  6. ^
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Textile_recycling". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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