UK Textile Recycling Crisis: Industry on the Brink of Collapse

by Admin
2 minutes approximate read time

The Threat of Industry Collapse

The UK’s textile recycling sector is grappling with severe challenges posed by the global market. According to the Textile Recycling Association, the country is facing significant capacity issues in collecting, processing, and repurposing used textiles, adversely affecting charities, recycling centers, and community textile banks.

Environmental Impacts and Microplastic Pollution

Improper processing of textile waste leads to several environmental issues. Problems such as microplastic pollution, water pollution, and the accumulation of textile waste in landfills are causing serious local and global environmental issues. Annually, 92 million tons of textile waste are produced, accumulating into mountain-sized heaps that threaten natural balances.

Legal Regulations and Future Projections

European countries are moving towards banning the export of used textiles, creating an additional pressure factor for the UK’s textile recycling industry. Simultaneously, TRA is advocating for the implementation of an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) program similar to the one set to take effect across the EU in 2025.

Europe’s Textile Waste and Recycling Potential

In Europe, an average of 15 kilograms of textile waste is generated per person per year, with 85% coming from discarded clothes and home textiles by consumers. These wastes are primarily processed through incineration or landfills, negatively impacting human health and the environment. However, fiber-to-fiber recycling technologies have the potential to transform this waste into new fibers for new clothes or other textile products.

Recycling Technologies and Challenges

Technologies like mechanical recycling of pure cotton and chemical recycling of polyester are rapidly evolving, yet they have not been fully commercialized. These technologies face challenges in recycling certain fibers like elastane and need further advancements in processing fiber blends, reducing costs, and enhancing output quality. Overcoming these barriers, fiber-to-fiber recycling could potentially recycle 18 to 26% of gross textile waste by 2030.

Leave a Comment