Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Textile Recycling Is Thriving in New York

Textile Recycling Is Thriving in New York

A bin for recycling clothing, flanked by two like-minded companions.
Re-fashioNYCA bin for recycling clothing, flanked by two like-minded companions.
Less than a year after introducing a textile recycling program in New York City, supporters have pronounced it a grand success.

Last May, the city formed a partnership with Housing Works, a group that helps homeless people who are H.I.V.-positive, to pick up donated clothing at apartment buildings in one of the first large-scale consumer textile recycling programs in the country. The goal is to capture most of the 200,000 tons of apparel and other textiles that New Yorkers throw away each year but that could be reused instead and thereby reduce the city’s garbage disposal costs.
At a City Council hearing on Friday, Department of Sanitation officials reported that over 50 tons of textiles were donated in the first six months of the program. That amount is expected to rise to more than 300 tons for the second half of the first year. Why? Buildings are clamoring for recycling bins.

While about 130 buildings are now taking part, the Department of Sanitation is still processing requests and more than 1,000 inquiries. Donations are tax-deductible, and the program, called Re-fashioNYC, is paying for itself through sales of donated items.

“When we set up this program, I had a feeling that New Yorkers would really respond, and they have,” said
Jessica Lappin, a city councilwoman who sponsored the legislation establishing the program. “We’re off to a great start.

Almost every clothing item, including shoes and accessories like handbags and belts, can be recycled. The Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association, a trade group, emphasizes that materials like stained or ripped clothing, buttons and zippers can be processed and reborn as wiping cloths, carpet padding and other products.

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