Recycling Mixed Rags is a Mixed Bag


In the circular economy of clothes, most recycling is done through donations and second hand sales. But when thrift stores have clothes that still won’t sell, they are collected into what is called “mixed rags.” These clothes often have imperfections such as stains, tears, missing features or are simply faded. Sometimes these clothes after being resold in bulk find themselves being worn again, but many are considered waste. So what happens to clothes that nobody wants to wear anymore?

People across a wide variety of industries have found creative ways to make use of these unwanted mixed rags, keeping them out of the landfills. For example: denim has found a niche as an insulator for construction purposes. What was once considered an interesting experiment in recycling is now a widely accepted method of insulation. You can now purchase denim insulation at your local Home Depot. The icing on the cake is the insulation is 100% recyclable at the end of it’s life and comes with the benefits of better indoor acoustics and no volatile materials in adding to the environmental protection.

Fast fashion culprit H&M and its partners in 2017 developed a way to separate cotton and polyester using heat and a 5% mixture of biodegradable chemicals and water. The polyester left over has no loss of quality and can be easily reused. This is a great advancement in technology as polyester can be harmful to the environment during both production and when discarded into landfills. Better yet, it is said to be affordable as well and plans to be licensed globally for a variety of markets.

But the textile recycling industry has a long way to go. Relative to the efficiency of paper and plastic recycling, textiles have a long, long way to go. But there are many initiatives and research groups around the world actively working to solve this problem. The Trash 2 Cash Project is a European funded research initiative aiming to turn old fibrous products including old clothes into high-grade industrial materials.

With it currently so difficult to recycle mixed rags, some companies look towards preventative measures as well by producing clothes sustainably or form other recycled materials. A Finnish firm has flirted with producing work wear out of recycled plastics. A Dutch company has made its goal to produce 100% recyclable clothing that can be reused heavily. Here in Canada, there is an initiative in Halifax to develop an app that points a user to the best place to recycle their old unwanted clothes no matter the condition.

Used towels and rags for sale in bulk

At Bank & Vogue we are committed to doing our part to end the “crisis of stuff.” Our goal is to be large contributors and promoters of the circular economy. We collect mixed rags from a variety of sources to be sold to companies that use it for anything from carpet padding to furniture filler, decreasing the amount of textiles that end up in landfills.

Contact us today for more information on how we can help you though buying, selling, shipping and other logistics in the mixed rag market. Reach out to our team at 1-866-613-0719 (North America) or 1-613-747-8465 (International) or fill out our contact form here.

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