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Fibres/​Yarns/​Fabrics

Sorting for Circularity in the USA

Making the case for informed investment and infrastructure decisions.

31st January 2023

Innovation in Textiles
 |  Amsterdam

Clothing/​Footwear, Sustainable

Following on from established projects in Europe and India, Amsterdam-based Fashion for Good is launching the Sorting for Circularity USA project focused on the North American textile-to-textile recycling market.

It involves brand partners, adidas, Inditex, Levi Strauss and Target with external partners Eastman, H&M and Nordstrom and aims to provide a representative snapshot of textile waste composition in the United States and the business case for textile-to-textile recycling.

Textile waste is now the fastest growing segment of the USA’s waste stream, with the amount of discarded textiles increasing annually. Although some of this waste is reused, 85% of it ends up in landfills. The demand for recycled fibres is growing, but access to the waste supply is limited.

Key elements to supporting the growth of textile-to-textile recycling include understanding the material composition, volume and location of used textiles, as well as expanding access to textile recycling. With a scaled textile collection and sorting infrastructure, the industry could capture used textiles, sort them for the best and highest quality end use, and fulfil the increasing demand for both second-hand and recycled commodity feedstock.

“The US presents a great opportunity with the potential for incredible positive impacts considering the volume of the consumer market and post-consumer textiles landscape,” said Katrin Ley, managing director at Fashion for Good. “This project will lay the foundations for making informed investment and infrastructure decisions and make a compelling business case for monetisation through recycling.”

The project will conduct an extensive consumer survey to map the journey a garment takes from closet to end of use, and carry out a comprehensive analysis of post-consumer textiles using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) technology, provided by Matoha, to understand their composition.

Project co-lead, Resource Recycling Systems, will drive the dissemination and analysis of the consumer survey together with the NYS Center for Sustainable Materials Management, and execute the textile composition analysis across the USA with support from advisory organisations Circle Economy and Smart. One of the largest used fibre trade associations, Smart will liaise with its used clothing and fibre industry members as part of the project. Circle Economy, having co-led the European project, will guide implementation of the waste analysis methodology.

www.fashionforgood.com

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