SATCoL working to keep textiles out of the waste stream

We don’t often think about how much clothing doesn’t get recycled. The figures are staggering. In 2018, over 350,000 tonnes of clothing were sent to landfill in the UK alone. With an average household disposing of around 30kg of unwanted garments annually, and only 4.5kg of that being recycled or donated, it’s clear that as a nation we can do more to be more environmentally friendly with our textile waste.

Traditionally, sustainability in the fashion industry and the battle against fast fashion has focused on fabrics. As the demand for fast fashion has grown, this has led to an explosion in the need for cotton, the world’s most popular fabric. Cotton is a natural fabric which is farmed, meaning that the more crop which can be harvested in a given period, the more garments can be produced.

We caught up with Rob Williams, Director of clothing manufacturers Hawthorn to find out more about what is being done as an industry to tackle fast fashion and textile waste.

“As an industry, clothing manufacturers are constantly working to make quality processes more robust so that less items are rejected at the checking stage. More time is taken during the fabric cutting stage so that there are fewer off cuts. Off cuts of fabric can be reduced by being more economical with panel cutting, and this is something we do as a matter of course. We are stripping back any unavoidable off cuts or rejected products to their yarns for recycling, which is increasing in popularity among other clothing manufacturers.

One thing we are actively encouraging as a business is for our customers, who are typically small start-up clothing brands, to bear in mind charities like The Salvation Army when they are considering what to do with any end of line stock. A typical concern is that items are usually branded and therefore commercial businesses are hesitant to give them away. The Salvation Army offer de-branding of donated clothing, making it a viable option to prevent more items going to landfill unnecessarily.”

Although sustainability in the fashion industry is a very on-trend topic, and many brands are including sustainable ranges in their collections, consumers continue to have a need for high volume ‘fast fashion’ clothing. As a result, the amount of textile waste per person is expected to rise to around 17.5kg by 2030. The more clothing we can encourage to be recycled via channels like our clothing banks and our commercial units, the greater the difference we can make to those who are in need through our charitable work.