The textile segment of the recycling industry processes billions of pounds of cotton, wool, and synthetic and synthetic-blend products each year. These materials come from many sources, ranging from apparel and home furnishing manufacturers to textile mills and consumers.

Each year, 2 million tons of textiles recovered from individuals (postconsumer) and manufacturers (pre-consumer) are recycled as new raw materials for the automotive, furniture, mattress, coarse yarn, home furnishings, paper, and other industries. This translates to about 12 lbs. of textiles per person in the United States.

Used clothing collected from households is graded into different categories. Garments in good condition are exported for resale in parts of the world where new clothing is not affordable for many. This trade provides employment not only among the exporting nations, but also in the importing countries.

Textile Recycling is Essential
Major Economic Impact

The textile recycling industry’s total annual economic impact in the U.S. is $1.15 billion.

A Clean Commodity

Approximately 30 percent of recovered textiles in the U.S. are processed into wiping and polishing cloths.

A Blend of Different Options

About 20 percent of recovered textiles are converted into fiber for use in products ranging from stationery and mattresses to roofing and flooring materials.

Fun Facts
  • The 2 million tons of textiles recycled each year translates to about 12 lbs. of textiles per person in the Unites States.
  • About 45 percent of the textiles recovered are secondhand clothing, which are typically exported to developing nations.




Joe Pickard
Chief Economist
Director, Commodities

(202) 662-8542

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