WRAP estimates that less than half of the clothes on the curb are reusable | Popgen Tech
An analysis of the composition of textile collections for WRAP Cymru found that only 46.4% of clothing left for kerbside collection can be reused.
Resources Futures carried out an analysis of used textiles from five local authorities in Wales collected from waste services and household waste recycling centers (HWRCs) between November 2020 and May 2021.
“Kerbside textile collections appear to produce the lowest quality reusable items and show higher levels of contamination,” concluded the report, which found 50.3% of material collected at HWRCs could be reused.
The investigation was launched after WRAP Cymru highlighted changes in second-hand textile markets affecting local authorities in Wales, with one of Wales’ biggest collectors telling the charity that difficulties faced included an “oversaturation” of poor-quality clothes, difficulties with export markets, fast fashion and “unprecedented” infection rates.
Additional analysis included collections from “yield banks” that contained 63.8% reusable clothing, although the report noted that the sample size for these was small at just 603 kg compared to more than 10,000 kg analyzed from other sources.
Overall, clothing accounted for 56% of the analyzed collections and 59.2% of HWRC materials, footwear for 17.2% and 12.2%, respectively, and accessories such as bags and belts for 1.3% and 3.1%.
Non-purpose items such as damaged or soiled textiles, waste, corporate branded items, carpets and the odd shoe accounted for 27.6% of kerbside collections, 18.2% of HWRC collections and only 10.3% of bank collections.
In particular, wet textiles from the kerbside were cited as a “major problem” – despite some being removed before analysis – with the lack of a dedicated space on some vehicles for kerbside recycling a potential problem.
WRAP Cymru recommended further research into the impact of waste collection methods on material quality, suggesting that the perception of kerbside collection as a waste collection service may be a factor.