Why the UK Is One of the Best Textile Reusing & Recycling Countries in the World

In the last couple of decades, the UK fashion industry has grown significantly. Today, it contributes around 26 billion pounds to the whole UK economy while employing around 5% of the workforce in the country.

However, this also leads to throwing away a lot of textiles and, in the UK alone, around a million tons of textile waste is thrown away on a yearly basis. Even though this might not seem great, the UK is currently one of the best textile recycling and reuse countries in the whole world.

Recycling culture

recycled denim sustainableThe first differentiating factor about the UK is that the whole country has a healthy recycling culture. Almost 60% of people living in the UK have a habit of textile recycling while only around 40% of people are less aware of things like textile recycling facilities.

To be able to recycle textiles properly, having a lot of facilities is not enough. This is because these companies can’t send out their employees to find old clothes. This could be costly and it is why the population itself needs to have awareness and be willing to recycle.

Diverse recycling methods

There are several ways that textile can be reused or recycled. In the UK, this is quite visible and all of these methods are contributing to the overall success on a national level. At the moment, the UK sends out around 700,000 old and used clothing pieces to various clothing collections, charity organizations, textile banks, and recycling centres.

Not all of the clothes are recycled. Some are perfectly good to wear; they are cleaned and shipped to countries in Africa and elsewhere where they are worn again. These kinds of clothes are on huge demand in poorer countries and they allow people there to buy clothes for low prices.

Fabrics that get recycled

recycled fabricAll of the clothes that can’t be worn again are recycled and used for various purposes. One of the things that are characteristic in the UK recycling industry is the fact that practically nothing is thrown away. They make an effort to recycle everything and avoid throwing away fabrics into landfills. This is how textile recycling creates a circular economy that saves the environment and makes money.

Around 40% of all the clothes can’t be worn again and they are recycled to be used as cleaning cloths, insulation products, soundproofing material, or some other manufacturing need. Even the plastic bags used to transport older clothes are melted down and recycled and this shows how sophisticated the UK recycling industry is.

Even though the UK recycling industry is one of the best in the world, it has its own challenges. The biggest one is the fact that around 5% of all the textiles that they get are simply not recyclable. These materials have to be incinerated and even though this creates energy that is used in a circular economy, the whole process is very costly.

How Bank & Vogue plays a role

We’re proud to play a role in the UK’s sustainable activity with our sister company, Beyond Retro. They have carved a unique identity as the leading vintage retailer across the UK and Sweden, and remain a seminal reference point for individuals of style – as well as a key stakeholder in the circular economy.

For more information on how to get involved, contact Beyond Retro today!


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