WRAP finds that less than half of the clothes on the street are reusable | Popgen Tech


The study, which took place over eight non-consecutive weeks from November 2020 to May 2021, analyzed 10,860 kg of used textiles from kerbside, household waste recycling centers (HWRC) and return points.

The findings were published last week (December 15) and showed that the proportion of clothing materials deemed suitable for re-use was just 46.4% at the kerbside, compared to 50.3% at the HWRC.

This rose to 54.6% and 59% when shoes are included.

Due to the lack of a large-scale solution for recycling the fiber into textile fiber, the vast majority of used textiles are sent overseas to markets in Africa and Eastern Europe to be sold in markets. Clothes that cannot be carried can be used for wipers or car seats.

The research comes as local authorities may have to roll out a form of “separate textile levy”, as envisaged in the EU’s Circular Economy Package 2018, which the UK has signed up to. However, this does not necessarily have to be on the curb, and the exact details remain unclear.


WRAP Cymru explained that the work was carried out after difficulties emerged in the textile recycling market, including a glut of poor-quality clothing and “unprecedented” levels of pollution. As a result, some local authorities in Wales have lost their kerbside textile collection contracts, WRAP Cymru reports.

In 2019, JMP Wilcox and a number of others also stopped kerbside textile collections, which affected councils in the South West (see letsrecycle.com history).

The project aimed to build an understanding of textile composition across different collection methods by evaluating representative samples against a number of pre-defined categories of interest. WRAP Cymru stressed that the material’s quality and reusability were “of particular interest”.


The analysis was carried out by environmental consultancy Resource Futures, who analyzed the composition of used textiles collected from kerbside and HWRCs from five local authorities in Wales.

Reusable clothing collected at the curb was 46.4%, and the total was 54.6%, including shoes

These were Cardiff Council, Conwy County Council, Merthyr Tydfil County Council, Newport County Council and Torfaen County Council, as well as North Wales charity Crest Co-operative and textile collectors Salvation Army Trading Company Ltd (SATCoL) and LMB Textiles as partners .


WRAP Cymru noted that a total of 38 samples were identified in selected local authorities.

Resource Futures analyzed samples of textiles from roadsides and HWRC, and brought in textiles from banks collected using the councils’ standard method, WRAP Cymru continued.

The samples were sorted by hand against a list of identified categories and in accordance with Zero Waste Scotland’s (ZWS) 2015 guidance entitled ‘Waste Composition Analysis Methodology’.


The analysis found that the collection of border textiles produced items of the lowest quality, “although not much lower than the HWRC”. Textile samples collected from curbside contained the highest proportion of non-target items (27.6%, compared to 18.2% at HWRC), with a large proportion wet, dirty or damaged (12.1%), the report said. added.

Moreover, textiles collected from HWRC banks were less contaminated than those collected at the roadside and contained fewer non-target items (18.2%), the paper continues.

Bank samples had the highest proportion of reusable clothing and footwear at 75.3%, while curbside had the lowest at 54.6% (with footwear), the report continued.

The paper notes that it is “unclear” how much of the difference in quality is due to the collection method and how much is due to residents’ behavior and perception of the service “as a ‘waste’ service”.


The report then recommended further research into the impact of collection and handling methods on the quality of textiles collected at the roadside. If the collection methodology reduces the quality of the materials collected, “it may need to be reviewed,” the document stated.

He also suggested further analysis of the banked materials “to deepen the understanding of the difference in composition and quality compared to HWRC and used textiles collected at the roadside”. Finally, he proposed an analysis of the composition of textiles in the residual stream “to determine their reuse potential and inform diversion targets.”