It is currently estimated that a staggering 15,000 tonnes of workwear are sent to landfill or incinerated every year in the UK. In this article we will look at the unique challenges such as security concerns and double fiber blends that workwear companies may face, but why overcoming them is both possible and of huge benefit to your business.
There are three main points to consider when deciding how to best recycle your workwear:
- Condition: is the garment able to be used again by someone else?
- Fiber blend: is it 100% polyester such as a hi viz or blended i.e. polycotton?
- Branding: is it a plain garment or does it clearly display our company logo?
Recycling any garment made from one single fiber, i.e. 100% polyester or 100% cotton is very easy because nothing needs to be separated. Enter your postcode into https://www.recyclenow.com/local-recycling and you will see the number of recycling banks that will take your clothes.
If your uniforms are a blended fiber such as polycotton, directly recycling is harder and is one of the main obstacles to a fully ‘closed loop’ system. The good news though is that new technology means this should soon be a thing of the past.
For instance, there is a lot of exciting R&D being carried out on hydrothermal chemical processes that can fully separate and recycle polycotton blends without any loss to quality. At Greener fabrics, we keep our fingers on the pulse of the latest technological breakthroughs in regards to sustainability, so that we can offer this expertise to our clients.
we often advise clients to create a designated space for old uniform drop offs. This is an easy way to contribute your ISO 1400:1 target of minimal waste. Additionally it gets employees out of the habit of binning clothes when no longer usable.
Are your clothes simply worn but still usable? If so, donate them to charity shops- especially, polycottons. In 2019 alone, UK charity shops diverted 300,000 tonnes of clothing from landfill, which is a great accomplishment.
You may be eager to recycle your old uniforms but by containing your company logo you will understandably have security and branding concerns. Excess branding also adds PVC contamination to the PET recycling process.
Depending on how heavily branded, you may be able to remove the company logo yourself via cutting off labels i.e. on trousers and t shirts. For more heavily branded uniforms companies such as https://www.shredstation.co.uk/ exist where they will pick up your uniforms and guarantee to shred and recycle them thus removing any security concerns.
Why recycle old uniforms?
- Recycling is now easier than ever. Once set up, it’s not hard to maintain but has big impact.
- Sustainable efforts have to be considered as a whole.
- Be a trailblazer. Contribute toward certifications.
- 100% polyester? Easily recycled.
- Polycotton? Give to charity but continue to monitor technological innovations in PC recycling.
- Branded/security? Remove or give to handlers.