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

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Links to RRS textile recovery information/resources: 


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