Recycling in the textile and clothing industry offers companies important benefits, particularly from an environmental viewpoint. However, only a handful of prominent international textile and clothing companies are heavily involved in recycling. Examples of these firms are: USA-based Jimtex Yarns, a producer of recycled eco-friendly fibres and yarns and part of USA-based Martex Fiber Southern Corporation; Japan-based Teijin Fibers; USA-based Unifi, which is the owner of the Repreve brand of yarns made from 100% recycled materials; the USA-based clothing producer American Apparel; the UK-based apparel retailer Marks & Spencer (M&S); the USA-based outdoor apparel producer Patagonia; the USA-based fleece fabric maker Polartec; the Japan-based clothing retailer Uniqlo; and the USA-based retailer Wal-Mart.
To encourage recycling in the EU, new legislation came into force on December 12, 2008, in the form of a revised Waste Framework Directive (WFD). The revised directive, which aims to make it easier for EU citizens and corporations to recycle, has nominated textiles as a “priority waste stream” because the recycling of textiles is deemed to bring with it significant environmental and economic benefits. The next step for the EU is to decide upon an EU-wide definition of the exact stage of the refuse process at which discarded textile products cease to become waste and, instead, become materials to be recycled.
Companies which are interested in getting more involved in textile and clothing recycling can take comfort from the fact that textile recycling is well supported commercially by numerous industry associations—and politically by government initiatives in many of the world’s largest economies.
In addition, there are plenty of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) involved in textile recycling, such as UK-based Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development (TRAID) and the Goonj project in India.
METHODS OF RECYCLING IN THE TEXTILE AND CLOTHING SECTOR
Making a textile or clothing product from waste consumer goods, such as plastic bottles or waste
Reusing waste textile and clothing products in a way which avoids throwing the items away
Shredding textiles and clothing into fibres for use in new products
Redistribution of a textile or clothing item in its original form
Reuse of the fabric from which a textile or clothing item is made
RECYCLING ACTIVITY IN SELECTED NATIONAL TEXTILE AND CLOTHING
LEGISLATION AFFECTING TEXTILE RECYCLING
The Waste Framework Directive (WFD)
TEXTILE RECYCLING ASSOCIATIONS
Bureau of International Recycling (BIR)
Textile Recycling Association
Vereniging Herwinning Textiel (VHT—The Textile Recycling Association)
Fédération des Entreprises du Recyclage (FEDEREC—Federation of Recycling Enterprises)
Fachverband Textil-Recycling (FTR—Textile Recycling Trade Association)
The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textile (SMART) Association
SELECTED GOVERNMENT INITIATIVES TO ENCOURAGE TEXTILE RECYCLING
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS (NGOs) INVOLVED IN TEXTILE RECYCLING
Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development (TRAID)
TEXTILE COMPANIES INVOLVED IN RECYCLING
APPAREL COMPANIES INVOLVED IN RECYCLING
Marks & Spencer (M&S)