Recycling clothes and the problems we face
According to the BBC, it’s estimated that 92 million tonnes of clothing waste is created each year. This is partially due to the recent increase in “Fast Fashion” which uses non-renewable resources such as man-made filaments, plastics and metals. This is because many clothes classed as fast fashion nowadays are made using cheaper blended materials which are harder to separate, meaning that they can’t be recycled. This usually results in them being incinerated or put into landfill.
Another alternative is sorting textiles by hand into different fibre types. However, this is slow, requires a large amount of skill and a high rate of man hours.
The fashion industry is responsible for 10% of all greenhouse gas emissions due to the chemicals being released when clothes are being burnt. Unfortunately, only 12% of these clothes end up being recycled which makes it lower than plastics and glass.
Recycling on a larger scale seems to be facing issues. However, there has been some development on a smaller scale. For example, in Hong Kong a technique has been developed for recycling clothes made from cotton and polyester by feeding them to a certain type of fungi called Aspergillus Niger. This fungus produces and enzyme that breaks down cotton into glucose which in turn makes can be used to create syrup. The left over polyester is reused to make clothing.
Useful information about the best ways to recycle your clothes can be found on www.recyclenow.com