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Clothes re-use and recycling

Love your clothes – give unwanted items a new home

Every year we throw away tonnes of clothes and shoes that could have been recycled or reused.

Here in Merseyside and Halton around 22,000 tonnes of textiles ends up in landfill. The clothing in our wardrobes is worth an average £4000, yet 30% is unused.

Everything from rags to britches has a value – even a sock with a hole! By making simple changes to the way we buy, use and get rid of our clothing we can all save money and help the environment. There are many options for recycling and reusing old and unused clothes and textiles throughout Merseyside, including:
– Council-managed and charitable doorstep collections,
– textile containers at the region’s Household Waste Recycling Centres
– bring banks

 Local charities also accept clothes, at charity shops. Charities can sell the textiles and raise money for a good cause, or the material can be re-used in places such as some African, Asian and Eastern European countries.

And just because we think some clothing isn’t of good enough quality to be used by anyone else doesn’t mean it isn’t – these items can be recycled for a range of uses including wiping cloths, felts and other non-clothing uses. The fabrics are shredded and reprocessed into new items, which is much better than them sitting in a landfill site generating methane, which contributes to climate change.

And next time you go clothes shopping ask yourself if you’re really going to wear what you buy, or will it end up gathering dust at the back of your closet. And remember to reuse or recycle!

For more information about textiles and clothes recycling then download our leaflet (PDF – 2mb)

For a whole host of tips, tricks and advice for looking after your clothes have a look at   

Recycling process

The diagram below shows what happens to clothing and textiles that are no longer wanted.

Once collected through charity shops, collection bags, textile banks and at kerbside, clothing is taken to a sorting depot where they are hand sorted/assessed into categories – not just the different materials (e.g. cotton/polyester/linen) but also a categories for clothes that are unsuitable for re-use.

These clothes  will be sent for shredding so that they can be made into new items. For example, shredded clothes can be used in padding for chairs and car seats or made into cleaning cloths or industrial quality “blankets” which protect equipment whilst being transported.

(click on the image for a larger versiontextiles chart)