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[GreenYes] Re: Fwd: Curbside Clothing Collection

I did a 49-page report (funded by the U.S. EPA) on collection programs for
textiles.  Called, Weaving Textile Reuse into Waste Reduction, the 1997
report is available for $15 plus shipping and handling.  You can order from
our Web site.  Go to:  The
introduction is available online.

This report documents ten communities' experience with collection of
textiles. Keeping textiles clean and free of mildew is essential.  Most of
the successful curbside programs ask residents to place textiles in plastic
bags that are tied closed.  Collection crews then throw the bags in the bin
with the paper and at the MRF, workers on the paper conveyor simply pull the
bags off.  As people don't tend to set out their old clothes very
frequently, handling textile bags in this way has not been a problem.  Some
programs provide special plastic bags.  When collection crews pick up a bag,
they will leave an empty one.

I found that the best programs partner with charities. City- and county-run
programs can complement the clothing reuse efforts of local charities.
Calvert County, MD, is a good example.  This rural county offers weekly
curbside collection of textiles to local charities and added textiles to its
drop-off recycling sites, where residents also drop off their trash.
Previous to this program, Calvert County charities were landfilling
significant amounts of clothing they could not use.  People tend to give
away their winter clothes in the spring and their summer clothes when the
weather turns cooler -- charities cannot use off-season clothes.  Calvert
County placed an ad in the local newspaper advertising its textile recycling
program. Part of the ad read:  "If you currently donate your clothing to a
charity (like your church or Catholic Charities) please continue, but
recycle the materials that the charities can't use with us."

St. Paul, MN, is an urban example of a commmunity partnering with a charity
to run a successful textile collection program.  Goodwill in St. Paul did a
study about a decade ago which indicated that 75% of St. Paul residents
donate items to a charity three times per year or more, 51% or people making
donations would prefer curbside pickup, and 65% would not go more than 10
minutes out of their way to make a donation.  The results of the survey
prompted the City, Goodwill, and the St. Paul Neighborhood Energy Consortium
to add curbside collection of textiles and reusable household items to the
city's recycling program.

With regard to your question about numbers on clothing reused vs. thrown
away/too damaged.... here are some data from New Threads, Inc. (a textile
collection, sorting, reuse and redesign enterprise that operated in
Philadelphia from 1995-1999).  Of the three tons per week New Threads
collected from households, about 10% went to its retail store or its
redesign operations (the cream of the crop so to speak).  Another 50-60% was
sold to textile brokers for export as reclaimed clothing, and the other 30%
was targeted for sale to the wiping industry and other end uses.  They
disposed about 5% of what they collected.

Feel free to contact me if you want to further discuss textile recycling


Brenda Platt
Institute for Local Self-Reliance

> >Date: Fri, 26 Jul 2002 15:14:58 -0400 (EDT)
> >From:
> >To: Multiple recipients of list <>
> >
> >Does anyone have experience with or stats on curbside collection of
> >reusable clothing?  I know textiles are a small percentage of the waste
> >stream, strong clothing reuse collection programs exist in many parts of
> >the country, and most people don't regularly dispose of clothing, but
> >any feedback on the idea of collecting clothing with recyclables is
> >welcome.  Any numbers on clothing reuse diversion or reusable clothing
> >vs. damaged clothing thrown away would also be greatly appreciated.
> >
> >Thank you,
> >
> >Timonie Hood
> >U.S. EPA Region 9
> >(415)972-3282
> >

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