Sorted Baled Sweaters
Textile Recycling


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Digging for Diamonds: Analysis for Sorting Reclaimed Textile Products

The textile waste material industry is much like a mining company that mines everything from coal to diamonds. It consists primarily of small family-owned businesses that are 2nd and 3rd generation. Textile waste material industries includes shoddy producers, laundry and wiping rag producers, clothing sorters, shredders and garnetters which includes paper makers, and those who search for diamonds. 

Diamonds are the carefully sorted collectible or vintage garments
consisting of 1-2% of the volume, yet generating nearly 15% of the
revenues. Diamonds are sold in the US in designer boutiques and vintage shops. Often they are sent to Japan where they there has been a strong demand for American clothing since World War II when Japanese solders saw American soldiers wearing jeans during their leisure time.  Examples of diamonds include Harley Davidson jackets, bowling shirts, boy scout uniforms, and vintage couture. Some jeans have been reported to bring prices as high as $18,000 on the vintage auction block.
Garnetting is the process of recovering the fibers from hard twisted wastes, rags,and clippings, especially wool fibers. The object is to thoroughly break up the material and return it a fluffy, fibrous condition so it can be reused in blends, or in some cases alone. A garnett machine is used for this process. for examples, in Pranto, Italy, they take old sweaters, break them down into fiber and use this fiber to make blankets. Click here to see this amazing process!
Clothing Sorts
This category consists of almost half of all the textile waste and is composed of pre-consumer waste(manufacturers and “branded” goods) and post-consumer waste(surplus from charitable organizations). Almost half of the post-consumer textile waste that is recovered is recycled as second hand clothing, which is typically sold to third-world nations. It is through the textile recycling efforts that the world’s poorest are clothed. The textile recycling industry can deliver a part of pants in clean, damage-free condition to the east coast of Africa for $.34 a pair and sweaters to Pakistan for $.12 each--less than the cost of mailing a letter. 
Wipers are rags made mostly from used t-shirts that are used by most industries. They are also made from flawed fabric from textile mills and perfect fabric that is sold at a reduced rate because of market disruption. Every industry that uses machinery of any kind, or which works with liquids, greases, paints, dyes, solvents, etc. uses wiping materials--usually in the form of rags. These rags are graded from coarse and absorbent to delicate and non-absorbent. This is because some industries require absorbent textile rags(for cleaning spills), others require just the opposite(wood polishing rag).
Shoddy is the term used for the category of recycling that reduces cuttings, textile waste, and used clothing to a fibrous form. This process represents an economic saving of valuable fiber that would otherwise be lost to the land fills. Shoddy comes from the textiles and apparel that are no longer wearable for the second hand market. There are a vast number of uses for shoddy. In the U.S., shoddy is used for making car linings, insulation, mattress stuffing, toy stuffing, carpet and roof felts, and making buffing wheels.

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