Suffolk: Clothes recycling takes off but bosses aim to do more

HUNDREDS of tonnes of unwanted clothes have been handled by the new recycling service across Suffolk – but officials believe much more fabric could be recycled.

And they are urging households to take advantage of the special bags that are supplied with recycling bins to prevent fabric getting soiled before being recycled.

Since the county-wide recycling service was introduced in July this year about 320 tonnes of clothes have been recycled during the three-month period.

This represents about half a million pairs of jeans or two million T-shirts – but it is only a fraction of the estimated 7,000 tonnes of fabric sent to landfill in Suffolk every year.

The members of the Suffolk Waste Partnership – the county council and all the boroughs and districts in the county – want to boost the amount of fabric recycled.

They want people to continue to support charity shops with clothes that are suitable to be re-sold, but to put any other fabric in the bags.

The majority of the clothes that are sent for recycling are able to be re-used, often sent to foreign countries where there is a demand for old clothing.

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However, clean fabric that cannot be re-used as clothes can be shredded and the fibres recovered used in the car industry and other manufacturing processes.

The fabric sent to the Suffolk material recovery facility (MRF) is sent to national recycling company Wilcox which sorts it and either sells it on for reuse directly, or turns it into insulation for the car industry.

Peter Stevens, chairman of the Suffolk Waste Partnership said: “We thank everyone who has taken part so far.

“There has been a superb response and we estimate that more than 60,000 bags have been collected. This is a really great and helps move us towards our 60 per cent recycling target for 2015.”

But while the partnership is pleased with the start, it remains very keen to increase the amount of clothes that are being recycled – but it is vital that clothes are tied up in the bags.

The manager of the MRF, Jamie Knock, said loose clothes risked getting wet and dirty – which meant they could not be re-used, either as clothing or to have their fibres recovered.

He said: “The most important message is that they should be put securely in the bags. That way they are far more useful to us and we hope everyone takes that to heart.”

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