Early Efforts to Tackle Mounting Textile Waste (Part One)

Read the full story at Waste360.


Textiles are now the fastest growing type of waste, accounting for about 16.2 million tons in the U.S. Most of this waste is landfilled or incinerated, with about 16 percent of it recycled. Each year, Americans throw out more, a pattern that comes with large environmental and financial impacts, with municipalities especially feeling the consequences. Meanwhile, there is almost no infrastructure to manage these materials, with the biggest hurdles being a lack of sophisticated sorting methods and no scalable collections systems.

“Textiles are outpacing almost every waste type in our stream,” says Marisa Adler, RRS senior consultant. “It’s grown 71 percent in 15 years, while the overall stream has grown by 6 percent. So, we have a textiles crisis, and it doesn’t seem to be subsiding because consumers continue purchasing at the same rate with clothes becoming more affordable and people keeping them and other textiles for less time. They are starting to treat them as disposables.”

A big question, according to Anne Johnson, vice president of RRS, becomes how can we recover more?

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