Here are some of the statistics and issues facing us about waste and textile recycling

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At present, almost all the waste produced in England and Wales is sent to landfill sites. However, the volume of waste being produced by households and businesses is increasing to such an extent that other methods of waste management have to be adopted. Recent European legislation states that landfill must be the last option for waste disposal. All other options, like recycling, minimisation, prevention and re-use, must be considered first before the landfill option. (DEFRA)

Landfill Statistics

Under the landfill allowance Trading Scheme, textiles are deemed to be 50% biodegradable. Biodegradable materials decompose and release the greenhouse gases methane and carbon dioxide. Therefore diverting household textiles from landfills by recycling or re-use reduces the use of landfill allowances.

In 2001 there were over 1,500 landfill sites in the UK producing around 27% of the UK’s emission of methane, a potent green house gas 21 times more potent than co2. So recycling is not just a “nice idea”, any one claiming to be serious about climate change should support efforts to increase recycling.

Recycling Statistics

In 2008 the UK was estimated to be recycling about 27% of the total municipal waste saving more than 18million tons/yr of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere. Though the equivalent of taking 5 million cars off the UK roads, this was still way behind other European countries which recycle over 50%.

Textile Recycling

It is estimated that the total UK waste from clothing and other textiles range from 1.4 million tons to as high as 2.35 million tons depending on the type of textiles covered. The textile recycling report for DEFRA, in 2003 estimated that approximately 1.2million tons of textiles were disposed of as waste with an additional net amount of 324,000 tons collected by secondary textile industry for re-use or recycling.

Textiles collected for re-use and recycling grew to 523,000 tons in 2008 compared to 324,000 in 2003, an increase of 33% while the total volume of discarded municipal waste increased by 8%.

There is some progress, but much more needs to be done by all sane minded humans and this is where we can join hands. Especially with items like textiles which are almost 100% suitable for re-use or recycling.

According to 2003 statistics available, post consumer textiles recovered ended up as follows:

54% Exported for re-use overseas
13% Re-used in the UK
19% Recycled in the UK
8% Recycled overseas
6% Disposed in landfills.

Recycled textiles are used in:

Filtration; acoustics; yarn/fabric – woollen only; automotive sound deadening; thermal insulation; furniture padding; roofing felts; mattresses; blankets; horticultural/agricultural matting; composites/FRP; and carpet underlay.

Potential uses:

Concrete additives; soil stabilisation; and geotexiles (permeable fabrics used as an integral part of a structure or system of foundation, soil, rock or similar)


-Reducing waste, reduces landfill space requirements
-Reduce energy used for getting rid of the waste.
-Reduces demand for primary resource production e.g cotton, and in turn reduces the use of
-Reduce the emission of methane and carbon dioxide gases into the atmosphere.
-Help deprived people locally and in the developing countries as the clothes and shoes
donated are mostly reused.
-Helps charities raise funds.