SMART member companies close-the-loop by recycling clothing, linens, new mill ends and non-woven/paper roll goods into new products. Half of the used clothing collected today is NOT re-used in its original form i.e. clothing that is stained, torn, thread-bare or out-of-style can be recycled into new products.
Among the newly created products are those that become industrial polishing/wiping cloths. Used clothing that is cut or converted into wiping products is then sold to industrial, manufacturing, retail, and other end-use clients. SMART members re-package wipers of different textures and absorbency levels to meet the user's needs.
Another segment of the used clothing/textile recycling industry that falls within the distributor category is �broker� companies. These businesses facilitate the transactions between collector companies, grader companies and buyers. Materials that are brokered within the used clothing industry include, institutional mixed used clothing, clothing gathered by collector companies, and materials that have been sorted by grader companies. The clients of brokers are often foreign businesses located in Africa, Asia, Europe, or South America. On occasion, brokers also facilitate transactions among companies within the United States, depending on the needs of their client companies.
45% of all Used Clothing is Re-used as apparel. These items are generally processed into large bales that are then sold in the U.S to the secondhand clothing industry or are exported to emerging market nations where demand for top quality secondhand clothing is particularly high.
Only 5% of Used Clothing is Unusable. If the textiles are wet, moldy or contaminated with solvents they are not fit for recycling, and are discarded.
Yes! The recycling pyramid is defined as the three R's Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. SMART Members do all three:
- Reduce solid waste through the life extension of textiles while also reducing energy and water consumption through the distribution of reclaimed wipers (recycled rags) vs. manufactured wiping products. The use of reclaimed wipers supports a cleaner, healthier environment.
- Reuse of clothing through wholesaling or exporting to less than developed or developing countries (secondhand clothing as well as household and industrial linens).
- Recycle old garments, towels and institutional linens as they are transformed to wiping cloths needed for industrial use. Additionally, SMART companies participate in fiber conversion � taking used fiber and recycling (converting) it to new textile products for consumer, industrial and consumer use.
45% re-used as apparel
30% converted to industrial polishing/wiping cloth
20% processed into fiber to be manufactured into new products
95% of all used clothing is recyclable
Only 5% is unusable due to mildew or other contamination
SMART has established Codes of Conduct whereby its members have agreed to abide by the ethical and moral standards outlined by the Association, thus distinguishing SMART members from other companies in the industry. Most SMART member companies are family-owned businesses with fewer than 500 employees. The majority of these companies employ between 35 and 50 workers, many of whom are semi-skilled workers. The industry provides meaningful jobs for more than 20,000 people in the United States who locally drive our economy and preserve our environment.
SMART member distribution companies are your first resource for any questions you may have about recycling used clothing in your area. SMART members can also assist you in starting a used clothing collection program by providing the equipment and/or services you may need to recycle used clothing and household textiles and to keep them out of a landfill.
SMART member companies distribute goods in various ways:
- By purchasing, sorting, grading and re-selling used clothing and other household textiles;
- By making industrial wiping cloths from the sorted materials not suitable to be used again as clothing;
- By operating clothing collection bin programs;
- By purchasing the items not sold from major charitable organizations, also from local consignment and thrift shops;
- By sponsoring recycling events with local governments, community organizations and charities
- And, by providing the outlet for goods collected from curbside recycling programs (where available).
Work with a SMART member today!