Waste Prevention Scheme

Waste Prevention Scheme

The Textiles Reprocessing Process

Once collected, the textiles are taken to reprocessing facility where they are sorted


  1. The textiles will be sorted into over 100 grades, based upon various factors from garment type, fashion, and material. Ensuring that the right clothing is sent to the right country and that it is marketable, affordable and desirable.
  2. The textiles are sold in the UK, Eastern Europe, Africa, and India. By selling the textiles, we are helping the receiving countries’ economy; giving people jobs and providing affordable clothing.


The Importance of Textile Re-use

In the UK, approximately 8% by weight of all household waste was composed of clothes or textiles in 2005. Each person donates on average 30 kg of clothing and textiles per year. In addition, the current consumption trends encourage the public to buy more clothes and to keep them for a shorter time. As a result, textiles are the fastest-growing sector in terms of household waste prevention efforts.

Textile Facts:

  • Over 1 million tonnes of textiles are re-used on average every year, mostly from domestic sources.
  • If everyone in the UK bought one reclaimed woollen garment each year, it would save an average of 371 million gallons of water, (the average UK reservoir holds about 300 million gallons) and 480 tonnes of chemical dyestuffs- (source: evergreen)
  • There are about 6,000 textile banks nationwide, but clothes banks are only operating at about 25% capacity.
  • Over 70% of the world’s population use second hand clothes
  • Obsolete clothing and shoes are typically sent to landfill which presents particular problems in landfill. Synthetic (man-made) fibre products do not decompose, woollen garments do decompose, but in doing so they produce methane, which contributes to global warming and climate change.


What are the Options?

The word textiles means any fabrics you have at home, so it doesn’t just mean the clothes that you wear but your ‘accessories’ such as shoes, bags, belts and ties as well as household textiles such as curtains, towels and bedding. All of these items can be reused if they are in a reasonable condition and if they are slightly damaged they can be recycled!

Textile recycling has been around for hundreds of years, starting with a man called Benjamin Law in 1813 and the ‘rag and bone’ man. Since then it has grown rapidly and there are now many ways in which you can recycle your items! Instead of throwing them straight in the bin when they get damaged you can try to repair your textiles or if your clothes don’t fit you anymore you can pass them on to a family member or friend!

You can also go onto Recycle Now’s website here where you will be able to locate the nearest textile re-use banks to you.

Whichever route you decide to take with your textiles, Dusty asks that you do not simply throw them in a bin where they will eventually end up in a landfill.


Social, Economic and Environmental Benefits

People in Europe donate their clothing long before it is worn out, usually because it is no longer fashionable whereas people in the developing world require clothing for more basic requirements such as to keep them warm and dry, or protect them from the sun. Consequently, an international trade in second-hand clothing has grown to redistribute the worlds resources.

Second-hand clothing has become an integral part of developing countries’ economies; it is an industry that;

  • Provides affordable clothing in counties with low purchasing powers.
  • Increases trade and benefiting the economy.
  • Supportslivelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people (in excess of 5 million jobs directly associated with the second-hand clothing trade in Kenya alone).
  • Around 10,000 directly associated jobs in the UK and over 9,500 indirectly associated jobs.

Do Charities Give Textiles Away?

It is often assumed that charities give clothing to the developing world, this is not the case, the second hand clothing industry is highly developed and employs many millions of people, in the UK collecting it and sorting it or in developing countries where people are paid to unload lorries, work in the dock, or sell the clothing. The charity sector deals in second hand clothing to provide revenue which they then use for their charitable purpose, quite often this is from selling what hasn’t sold in their shops to specialist merchants.

Most charities in the UK can only sell between 5-10% of the clothing donated in their stores, as in the UK there is a great choice of low cost fashion retailers. The majority is usually sold to textile merchants. .. The second-hand clothing industry is highly developed and employs many thousands of people; collecting it and sorting it in the UK, or in receiving countries, some of these jobs include unloading lorries, working in the docks, administrative work, collecting taxes or selling the clothing in developing countries.

The charity sector deals in second-hand clothing to provide revenue which they then use for their charitable purpose, often this is through a charity shop, a lot of the clothing donated to charity shops won’t actually be sold in store because people in the UK have a lot of options where to buy clothing. As such the surplus collected is often sold to specialist collectors, who have the infrastructure and specialist market knowledge to ensure it is reused.

For those charities involved in international aid they will only give away clothing in the developing world in times of natural disaster or political unrest. The preferred option is to always buy the clothing locally as this helps stabilise the local economy and obviously inject money where needed.