We invited Paul Gardner, WasteZero Director of Regional Municipal Partnerships. to offer information about efforts to build textile recovery in Illinois.
The latest entrant into the Illinois textile recycling market is Simple Recycling, a for-profit company from Solon OH (
). Simple Recycling contracts with municipalities in major metro areas in 10 states, mails an educational postcard about the program & then sends 2 specially marked drawstring bags to all residents who have curbside recycling service. On every recycling day Simple Recycling picks up the material in quiet & fuel-efficient vans & leaves replacement bags. Simple takes used clothing, textiles, footwear and some hard goods. Cities then get a monthly report and a check for $20/ton.
According to the Illinois Waste Characterization 2015 report, Illinois residents still throw away 333,010 tons of clothing & textiles a year. That's even with all the nonprofit & for-profit drop-off programs around the state. "The bad news is that Americans throw away a lot of valuable textiles," says Paul Gardner of WasteZero, the company that markets for Simple Recycling in Chicagoland. "The good news is that a curbside program can chip away at the problem without taking material away from other stakeholders. Just like municipal recycling, lack of convenience is a big factor in why people throw the material out."
The apparel section is also a major contributor of greenhouse gases in manufacturing, with some experts estimating anywhere between 5-8 % of global emissions. "That is why collecting a ton of textiles conserves more than a ton of carbon, even while adding collection vehicles," says Gardner.
Roughly 50% of Simple Recycling's materials stay in North America. The highest & best uses are thrift stores in Chicagoland, with "worn & torn" material going to insulation & industrial wipers. The other 50% goes to paying overseas customers.
While Simple Recycling is focused on the densely populated areas of the Chicago metro area, WasteZero can provide textile collection solutions for charities & local governments in the rest of the state. "WasteZero's mission as a company is to cut waste disposal in half for municipalities," says Gardner. "Textiles are a big part of that."
Paul Gardner can be contacted at WasteZero, 612 227 4582, email@example.com.