Fleece, flannel, corduroy, cotton, nylon, denim, wool, and linen. What can you do with these fibers when you're finished wearing them, sleeping on them, or draping them over your windows? One way to benefit both your community and the environment is to donate used textiles to recycling organizations. Most recovered household textiles end up at these organizations, who sell or donate the majority of these products. The remainder goes to either a textile recovery facility or the landfill. An estimated 10.6 million tons of textiles were generated in 2003, or 4 percent of total municipal solid waste (MSW) generation.The textile recycling industry annually prevents 2.5 billion pounds of post consumer textile product waste from entering the solid waste stream, according to the Council for Textile Recycling.This 2.5 billion pounds of post consumer textile waste represents 10 pounds for every person in the United States. Approximately 500 million pounds of textiles collected are used by the collecting agency, with the balance sold to textile recyclers, including used clothing dealers and exporters, wiping rag graders, and fiber recyclers. Most textile recycling firms are small, family-owned businesses with fewer than 500 employees. The majority employ between 35 and 50 workers, many of whom are semi-skilled or marginally employable workers.

                                        Just the Facts


Nearly half of textiles discarded are contributed to charities, according to an estimate from the Council for Textile Recycling. Charities either give away clothes or sell them at discounted prices in secondhand stores. About 61 percent of the clothes recovered for second-hand use are exported to foreign countries.

Regardless of their final destination, used textiles have a relatively stable and high price. According to EPA, revenue generated by sales is enough to cover processing costs. Unsalable clothing is sold to textile recovery facilities for processing.
Collecting Textiles

A survey by Goodwill Industries, one of the largest textile collectors, found that half of the people making donations prefer door-to-door pickup, and more than half would not go more than 10 minutes out of their way to make a drop off. To help divert textiles that might otherwise end up in a landfill or incinerator, some counties collect used textiles with regular curbside recyclables pickup. Others offer less frequent quarterly or annual pickups. Textiles typically are not sorted at the point of collection, but keeping them clean and free from moisture is important. Once clothes get wet, stained, or mildewed, they cannot be sold for reuse. To prevent contamination, many recyclers and charities offer enclosed drop-off boxes for clothing or other household items. Communities with curbside collection for textiles should educate donors on how to properly bag clothing.

Recycling Textiles

Textile recovery facilities separate overly worn or stained clothing into a variety of categories. Some recovered textiles become wiping and polishing cloths. Cotton can be made into rags or form a component for new high-quality paper. Knitted or woven woolens and similar materials are "pulled" into a fibrous state for reuse by the textile industry in low-grade applications, such as car insulation or seat stuffing. Other types of fabric can be reprocessed into fibers for upholstery, insulation, and even building materials. Buttons and zippers are stripped off for reuse. Very little is left over at the end of the recycling process. The remaining natural materials, such as various grades of cotton, can be composted. If all available means of reuse and recycling are utilized, the remaining solid waste that needs to be disposed of can be as low as 5 percent.

More than 500 textile-recycling companies handle the stream of used textiles in the United States. As a whole, the industry employs approximately 10,000 semi-skilled workers at the primary processing level and creates an additional 7,000 jobs at the final processing stage. Primary and secondary processors account for annual gross sales of $400 million and $300 million, respectively. 

Usable Items Only

Earth 1st Recycle Centers, Inc is currently accepting only recyclable items of usable quality. Please see "Acceptable Items" tab for details. We do not have repair facilities. Therefore, we can not accept anything that is not in good working order or is, ripped, torn, missing parts or whatever makes it unusable. Please contact us if you are not sure. Thank you for your understanding.