Businesses such as hotels, healthcare facilities, colleges & universities, and retail operations often have textiles they no longer need. The majority of textiles, including apparel, linens, and other fabrics, can be reused or converted into new products rather than thrown away. It is important to collect and recover textiles separately, as they do not belong in recycling containers of any kind and can cause equipment damage and worker safety challenges at recycling facilities.
MassDEP Disposal Ban on Textiles
Effective November 1, 2022, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) added textiles to the list of materials that are banned from disposal. This applies to any clothing, footwear, bedding, towels, curtains, fabric, and similar products, except for textiles that are contaminated with mold, bodily fluids, insects, oil, or hazardous substances. See the MassDEP Waste Disposal Bans and MassDEP Textile Recovery webpages for additional details.
There is a growing infrastructure for textile recovery in Massachusetts and RecyclingWorks provides free technical assistance to help businesses and institutions establish textile recovery programs. Contact us to learn more: 888-254-5525 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
How to Recover Textiles
There are different opportunities to recover textiles depending on the quantity, type, and quality of materials. Textiles can be recovered as long as they are clean, dry, and odorless; items will not be accepted by textile recovery outlets if they are wet, moldy, or contaminated with oil or other hazardous substances. There are a number of factors to consider and questions to ask when you connect with a textile reuse organization or processor.
- Check with the organization about specifics on the types of textiles accepted, minimum quantities, and how the material should be prepared and transported. For example, material may need to be baled or stored on-site until a minimum quantity is achieved.
- Some reuse organizations will provide businesses or institutions with an on-site donation bin. This may be a good option for entities with a variety of reusable textile types, such as retail stores, college and university campuses, or multi-family commercial properties. Bins can be public-facing or accessible by employees only. There are many non-profit and for-profit organizations that site bins; check to be sure that the textiles you generate are compatible with their process.
- Businesses with outdated uniforms or other branded material may want to utilize textile destruction. This process shreds the fabric before recycling to remove any identifiable information, and is a service offered by some textile processors.
Use the RecyclingWorks Find-a-Recycler tool or connect with Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART) to identify textile recovery outlets near you. Contact RecyclingWorks if you need help getting started or identifying the best outlet for your unwanted material and specific needs. For example, we can help you identify entities that provide an on-site collection bin or offer textile destruction.
What happens to textiles after they are collected?
There is a growing infrastructure for textile recovery in Massachusetts. Most textile collectors, charity organizations, and processors will separate out material that may be re-sold or reused as-is. There are both domestic and international outlets for these textiles. The remaining material can be converted into industrial wiping cloths or shredded and converted into new products such as insulation or carpet padding.
Textiles Recycling Case Study: Ecos Properties
When diving into a motel-to-residential apartment renovation project, the Great Barrington-based commercial real estate company, Ecos Properties knew there would be opportunities for reuse and recycling. RecyclingWorks helped by developing a list of reuse and recycling service providers and charitable organizations that would accept linens, mattresses, and other hospitality-related materials.
Ecos Properties & Worleybeds Case Study: Learn more about how Ecos Properties diverted textiles from disposal during their renovation project.
Learn more about recycling other materials
- Bottles & Cans
- Construction Materials
- Fluorescent Lamps/Light Bulbs
- Food Waste
- Single Stream
- View additional information about textile recovery on the MassDEP Textile Recovery page.
- Find out how to start or improve your own recycling program.
- To find a hauler or processor for recyclable materials in your area, search our Recycler Database.
- Refer to the RecyclingWorks Guidance for Businesses Contracting for Trash, Recycling, and Food Waste Services when discussing options for textile recovery with your hauler.
- To find out how you can purchase recycled products, check out our Buying Recycled Products
- Click here to learn about Massachusetts Waste Bans.