Fashion for Good, global platform for innovation to scale and accelerate supply chain implementation, has launched the Sorting for Circularity USA Project, a new initiative focused on the North-American textile-to-textile recycling market meant to provide a representative snapshot of textile waste composition generated in the United States.


The effort of the project is to understand and evaluate how used textiles can move to their best and highest end use. The first results of this 18-month initiative will inform decisions to unlock necessary investments and actions to scale collection, sorting and recycling innovations.


Driven by Fashion for Good, the Sorting for Circularity USA Project is facilitated by brand partners, Adidas, Inditex, Levi Strauss & Co., and Target, as well as Eastman, H&M and Nordstrom, as external partners.


“We are excited to be taking the Sorting for Circularity Project into new territory and entering the North-American market. After successful initiatives across such large regions as Europe and India, the US presents a great opportunity for innovation and circularity, considering the volume of the consumer market and post-consumer textiles landscape," said Katrin Ley, managing director, Fashion for Good.


Textile waste is one of the fastest growing segment of the USA’s waste stream, with the amount of discarded textiles increasing annually. Although some of this waste is reused, 85% of the textile waste ends up in landfills. Currently, the demand for recycled fibers is growing, but access to the waste supply is limited. Key elements to supporting the growth of textile-to-textile recycling include understanding material composition, volume and location of used textiles, as well as expanding access to textile recycling.

With a scaled textile collection and sorting infrastructure, the industry could capture used textiles, sort them for the best and highest quality end use, and fulfil the increasing demand for both secondhand and recycled commodity feedstock. Fashion for Good launches the Sorting for Circularity USA project to address this challenge and uncover feedstock availability for textile-to-textile recycling.


Building on the learnings from Sorting for Circularity Europe and India, the Sorting for Circularity USA Project aims to highlight the opportunity to accelerate the recycling of textile waste generated in the United States.


The project aims to achieve this through two objectives: conducting an extensive consumer survey to map the journey a garment takes from closet to end of use, and conducting a comprehensive analysis of post-consumer textiles using innovative, Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIR) technology, provided by Matoha, to understand their composition.


Project co-lead, Resource Recycling Systems, will drive the dissemination and analysis of the consumer survey together with NYS Center for Sustainable Materials Management, and execute the textile composition analysis across the USA with support from advisory organisations Circle Economy and Smart.


Smart, one of the largest used fiber trade associations, will liaise with its used clothing and fiber industry members to participate in the project. Circle Economy, having co-led the European project, will serve to guide implementation of the waste analysis methodology.


Sorting for Circularity is a framework created by Fashion for Good and Circle Economy and aims to recapture textile waste, speed up the implementation of game changing technologies and drive circularity within the fashion value chain and as part of a trajectory for the industry to meet its net-zero ambition by 2050, highlighting the potential and significant impact on carbon emissions in the industry through material efficiency, extended and re-use of waste.

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