Every year, Americans become increasingly aware of the issues related to waste generation. Despite that, we are still contributing to the waste stream at a record pace. On average, every person in the U.S. creates 4.5 pounds of waste every single day.¹ Not only are those numbers unsustainable due to the fact that land is a limited resource, but it costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually in transfer station fees.²

 

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Textile Recycling Facts

  • Approximately 95% of textile products and shoes are recyclable
  • According to the most recent EPA waste generation and recovery data, it is estimated that the U.S. generates 16.89 million tons (33.78 billion pounds) of clothing and textile waste per year. At the same time, only 2.57 million tons (5.14 billion pounds) of that volume is recycled, or about 15%. ¹
  • The 15% of textiles that are recycled has the environmental impact equivalent to removing 590,000 cars from the road every year. ¹
  • If we were to keep in circulation all recyclable textiles and shoes, it would have the environmental impact equivalent to removing 3,877,470 cars from the road each year.
  • Current EPA estimates have clothing and textiles accounting for nearly 8.25% (roughly 28.64 billion pounds) of our yearly waste stream, despite the product itself being almost entirely recyclable. ¹
  • Based upon EPA estimates of current recycling rates, recycled clothing reduces greenhouse gas emissions by triple that of recycled glass. ¹
  • On average, the EPA estimates that each individual in the U.S. contributes 87.5 pounds of textile waste to the waste stream every year. ¹
  • The U.S. national average cost to dispose of 1 ton of solid waste in 2019 was $55.36. ²
  • Due to the fact that 15% of textiles and shoes are currently being removed from the waste stream annually through recycling programs, U.S. taxpayers save an average of $142,275,200 every year.
  • Accounting for landfill tipping fees, the 85% of textiles and shoes that are currently being added to the waste stream costs U.S. taxpayers an average of $794,775,840 per year.
  • At more than $75 per ton to process waste, New England states are among the highest in the country.⁵ It is imperative that we all start working now to minimize the volume of material that we add to the waste stream.

 


Textile Manufacturing Facts

  • Growing enough cotton to produce a single t-shirt requires 2,700 liters of water. ³
  • The polyester production industry releases 1.5 trillion pounds of greenhouse gasses every year, which is equivalent to the  annual emissions of 185 coal-fired power plants. ³
  • The textile manufacturing industry produces 20% of global waste water and accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions, which is more than all international flights and maritime shipping combined. ⁴
  • While cotton only takes up 3% of arable land, it accounts for 24% of insecticide and 11% of pesticide use. ⁶
  • Approximately 15% of fabric intended for the manufacture of clothing ends up as waste on the cutting room floor. ⁶
  • According to the most recent U.S. Department of Agriculture data, the U.S. imports 19.7 billion pounds of textiles and apparel every year, while exporting only 3.5 billion pounds. ⁷
  • Based on those numbers, the U.S. amasses 16.2 billion additional pounds of textiles and apparel every year by way of imports, or 49.5 pounds for every single person in the country.

 


Ecosmith Recyclers' Contribution

  • Since 1991, Ecosmith Recyclers has kept over 50 million pounds of shoes, clothing and household textiles out of landfills and in circulation.
  • In that time, we've given back over $1,000,000 to local non-profit groups.
  • In 2014, Ecosmith partnered with Live Bee, or Die Farms and Apiary. They are a local farm that raises pesticide free flowers and produce as a means for supporting local pollinator populations, including their own bee hives.
  • Ecosmith partners with more than 100 different non-profit groups, schools, towns, churches, and small businesses. They provide textile and shoe recycling services to local communities. At the same time, they return a percentage of profits to each of their partners.

 


Additional Reading

 


 

  1. https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2019-11/documents/2017_facts_and_figures_fact_sheet_final.pdf
  2. https://www.wastetodaymagazine.com/article/eref-releases-analysis-national-msw-landfill-tipping-fees/
  3. https://www.wri.org/blog/2017/07/apparel-industrys-environmental-impact-6-graphics
  4. https://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/timber/meetings/2018/20180716/UN_Partnership_on_Sustainable_Fashion_programme_as_of_6-7-2018.pdf
  5. https://nrra.net/sweep/no-end-in-sight-to-us-landfill-cost-increases-pacific-region-to-experience-highest-growth/
  6. https://edgexpo.com/fashion-industry-waste-statistics/
  7. https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/charts-of-note/charts-of-note/?topicId=14848