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[greenyes] Re: Textile Recycling


Used clothing, technically known as "Rags" can be an excellent niche material
for many community recycling programs, and support a vital network of
used-clothing merchants in the developing world. (Many people are surprised to learn
that it's illegal for charities to carry clothing into Mexico for donation
purposes, as the practice competes with legitimate micro-businesses!) Rag
prices for 20 ton lots have varied from 2-14 cents per pound over the past decade,
and rags are super-easy to bale in a vertical or non-shearing horizontal baler
(use cardboard headers). If your area has only small thrift stores, they
probably aren't baling their rags, and may not have sufficient storage space. In
the late 90's I found a profitable partnership in accepting surplus rags from
local Salvation Army thrifts, and selling the baled truckload lots through
brokers and sorters. In our (University town) recycling program, Rags quickly
grew to outweigh plastics, magazines, phonebooks, and even steel cans.
Bernie Brill of the Council for Textile Recycling was an excellent source of
referrals: http://www.textilerecycle.org/

Check references on these brokers, and don't be afraid to ask for some
up-front money on the first load, because there have been a lot of disconnected
phones and dubious downgrades in this niche of the recycling industry. It's
almost standard to get a call right after the buyer receives the load saying that
some of the clothes were damp or 'smell musty', and therefore they can only pay
half of what was offered... Take photos and other steps to document the
quality of your product.

Good Luck,
Jay Donnaway

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