84% of textile waste is sent to landfills at a cost of $3.7 billion.
Did you know, textiles increased in the municipal solid waste stream by a staggering 78% between 2000 and 2017? That is more than double the growth of any other major waste category. During the same time, textile diversion rates remained stagnant at 16%.
A majority of this unprecedented growth in textile waste is driven by fast fashion and consumer behavior. Fashion cycles – from catwalk to retailer – move at lightning speed with multiple cycles per year. Add on the fact that our culture is steeped in rapid consumerism and you end up with disposable clothing.
Evolving Waste Stream
The good news is that per capita waste generation, on a mass basis, has decreased compared to 2000. However, two waste streams with some of the lowest overall recovery rates show the highest increases in per capita generation rates since 2000: textiles (15.5% recovery rate) and plastics (8.3% recovery rate). Clearly, we still have work to do if we are to build a bridge to the circular economy in the U.S.
Textile and Apparel Flows in the U.S.
Thicker Line = Larger Volume
Green = Recycle, Reuse, Repurpose; Red = Incineration; Gray = Landfill
Get Informed & Get Involved
Links to RRS textile recovery information/resources:
- Fact Sheet: Textile Waste
- Blog: Measuring Textile Reuse
- Blog: Let’s Talk Textile Waste
- Recorded Webinar: A Rising Tide of Apparel and Textile Waste – What Brands are Doing and is it Enough?
- Recorded Webinar: The Cost & Environmental Impact of U.S. Textile & Apparel Waste
- Recorded Webinar: How U.S. Textile Recovery Works & Emerging Innovations in Sortation Technologies
- Recorded Webinar: State & Municipal Views on Textile Waste in the U.S.
Links to industry articles/information:
- WasteDive, Nov 12, 2019: Why Secondhand Markets are the True Circular Economies
- NY Times, Sep 3, 2019: How Fast Fashion is Destroying the Planet
- Walmart, Apr 10, 2019: 3 Ways We’re Reducing the Environmental Impacts of Your Favorite Textiles
- Environmental Leader, Mar 19, 2019: UN Unveils Alliance to Combat the ‘Destructive Practices of Fashion’
- Waste Advantage, Feb 1, 2019: Fashion Emergency – The Waste Crisis
- Ecotextile, Jan 29, 2019: EPR Shapes French Attitudes to Fashion
- Waste Advantage Magazine, Jan 19, 2019: Coventry, RI, Starting Textile Recycling Program
- UK Focuses on EPR for Textiles, 2018: Our Waste, Our Resources: A Strategy for England
- Sustainable Brands, Jun 6, 2018: New Report Reveals a Gap in the Clothing Reuse Loop
- Waste360, May 30, 2018: Early Efforts to Tackle Mounting Textile Waste (3-Part Series)
- BBC News, May 28, 2018: How the US and Rwanda have Fallen Out Over Second-Hand Clothes
- Sustainable Brands, Feb 13, 2018: Unilever, Savers Team Up to Tackle Clothing Waste
- Public Radio International, Dec 8, 2017: How Good is H&M’s clothing Recycling Program?
- The New York Times, Oct 12, 2017: For Dignity and Development, East Africa Curbs Used Clothes Imports
- EcoTextile, Sep 19, 2017: Greenpeace calls for fashion slowdown
- Business Insider Nordic, Sep 14, 2017: H&M’s charity arm has found a revolutionary way to recycle textiles – “The holy grail of circular fashion”
- Sustainable Brands, Sep 5, 2017: Good News, Bad News for Reducing Textile Industry Impacts
- Waste360, Aug 8, 2017: Rocky River, Ohio Partners with Simple Recycling for Textile Collection Services
- Sustainable Brands, Jul 24, 2017: New Circular Solutions Aim to Eliminate Waste from Kids’ Clothing
- AfricaNews, Jun 21, 2017: Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda Face U.S. Sanction After Used Clothes Ban
- GreenPeace International, May 8, 2017: After the Binge the Hangover, International Fashion Consumption Survey
- McKinsey & Company, Oct 2016: Style That’s Sustainable: A New Fast Fashion Formula