Textiles: the focus of reduce, reuse and recycle

Many local authorities are facing increasing problems when it comes to textiles. The fashion industry contributes to 4% of the world’s total waste, according to Forbes 2018 report. The increasing awareness of this problem seems to have resonated with us all. Moreover, the opportunities for residents who want to counteract this by recycling their old clothes, are increasing. However, knowing how to recycle these items properly and conveniently is tricky.

At present, a notable percentage of recycling waste collected from households is contaminated, with around 16.25% disallowed items; textiles make up almost halve of this value. Depositing any item prohibited or not in to a recycling bin seems uncomplicated and the consequences of these actions negligible. However, this act has far more significant outcomes, including disrupting the sorting process and damaging a resource with potential monetary value beyond reuse.

How do we reduce contamination whilst increasing the reuse & recycling of textiles?

Education, readily available on recycling sites with high visibility, and easy access will be key to providing households with an alternative method of recycling their used and unwanted clothes. Textile banks located on high streets, retail parks and most public areas, give users many opportunities to recycle where they want. Of late, the addition to recycling services of clothing bins by retailers such as H&M within their stores has proved to be successful.


For the most part, clothing banks have been utilised by the charity sector, where a number of them own a fleet of banks across the country to collect donated items. Over 7 million tonnes of second hand clothes have been collected and sold for reuse within charity stores, raising funds and ultimately diverting clothes from landfill.

Recently, Fairport Containers have seen an upsurge in local authorities enquiring about textile banks. We are now working with a number of councils to support their efforts to improve the capture of textiles directly from residents. This approach could really help to alleviate the problem of contamination within household recycling bins.


The use of textile banks can provide many benefits, with an initial low investment, minimal maintenance and when placed in high footfall areas, with easy access, nearby parking can result in a high yield of clothing deposits. Local authorities offering communities additional recycling points can only help to reduce, reuse and recycle more.

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