top of page
  • Susan Wineland

Recycling Old Clothes and Textiles

Are you done with those jeans with the broken zipper? The stained shirts and pants? Those tattered towels and that coffee-stained shirt? Don’t throw them out in the trash! Over 20 million tons of clothes are sent to landfills every year. What a waste! Once they start to decompose, natural and synthetic fabrics produce methane and other greenhouse gasses, and add lots of weight and volume to our landfills and incinerators. Recycling clothes, footwear, towels, bedding, and other fabric-based products prolongs their lifecycle and reduces waste, providing social, environmental, and economic benefits.

Recycling is now serving Orange, bringing a new opportunity to recycle textiles and producing added revenue for the town. Orange will be paid $120 per ton for all of the items collected.

You’ll find their collection bins with the Orange Town Seal and Orange Recycling logo on them at High Plains Community Center near the pavilion and at the Orange Transfer Station to the left of Goodwill. There will soon be a third bin located at the Orange Public Works driveway at 308 Lambert Road near the Post Rd.

With over 40 years of experience in the post-consumer textile waste industry, Bay State Textiles serves over 180 municipalities throughout Massachusetts and Connecticut. Acceptable items include all types of clothing from pants, blazers, pajamas, undergarments, etc. All footwear including boots, cleats, flip-flops, sneakers, etc. Accessories like hats, pocketbooks, gloves, duffle bags, ties, scarves, totes, and bathrobes. Also, linens such as sheets, draperies, pillows, towels, table linens, throw rugs, comforters, placemats, and stuffed animals. They don’t accept: mattresses and mattress pads, foam products, couch cushions, lawn furniture, carpet remnants, rugs (larger than 2’ x 4’), or anything wet, smelly, or dirty.

The many benefits of textile recycling include:

  • decreasing the amount of valuable materials going to landfills and incinerators and thereby reducing disposal costs for local governments, businesses, and residents

  • reducing greenhouse emissions from textile production while saving natural resources, including water and petroleum, and reducing toxins from pesticides, herbicides, dyes and other harsh chemicals used in textile production

  • allowing valuable materials to remain in the supply chain to create sustainable products.

What happens to collected items?

Bay State has a large customer base in the United States. Their customers, called “graders”, sort the clothing, shoes, and household linens into 50-plus categories or grades. First grade gets packed for export as used clothing. The second grade, the wiper grade, consists of material that is absorbent, such as flannel, t-shirts, towels, and denim. Items of this grade are all cut into wiping rags and resold to companies through the United States that need wipers to keep their plant and equipment clean. The centuries-old “rag” business employs hundreds of workers, supports training programs to help struggling citizens develop work skills, and adds value to materials that would otherwise be wasted. Bay State materials that can’t be used as rags are shredded and reprocessed into fibers for furniture stuffing, insulation, soundproofing and carpet padding employing dozens of people to work in the manufacture of new materials. There is a market for the zippers and buttons which are collected separately and recycled. Bay State Textile Recycling offers a solution to deal with the problem of unwanted textiles. They partner with schools and communities to create a process for diverting clothing donations along with shoes and fabrics away from the solid waste stream. So, instead of throwing your unwanted textiles away, we encourage you to donate all used textiles for reuse and recycling.

Article originally published in the Milford-Orange Times.


bottom of page