On a global average, roughly 11,000 l of water are required to produce 1 kg of cotton. A large amount of the cotton worn in Germany comes from India, where even more than 23,000 l of water are used to produce 1 kg of cotton. Worldwide, each year, 256 km³ of water are used for cotton production – an amount that would be enough to supply every person on the planet with 120 l of fresh water daily.
Textile recycling as a key to more environmental protection
This fact once again underscores the significance of textile recycling for our environment and natural resources. Although relatively large in volume, textile recycling receives little attention in comparison to the widely known recycling of paper, glass and plastic. Our industry plays not only an ecologically but also socially important role in today’s society:
The significance of textile recycling
Textile recycling makes sense for ecological reasons. The reclamation, reuse, or recycling of used clothes avoids waste, CO2 emissions caused by burning are reduced, and natural resources (natural plant and animal fibres and water) are preserved. A further benefit of textile recycling is that yarns must not be dyed. Diverse treatment processes such as dyeing or impregnation gravely impact the environment due to the contaminants released.
A proportion of the earnings made from the sale of used clothes is used to finance social projects. Textile recycling, like a number of other recycling processes in which waste materials are separated at the source, is highly work intensive but, in contrast to glass and paper recycling, is not energy intensive.
A further advantage offered by textile recycling is the creation of job opportunities for employees with limited qualifications, as automatic or mechanical sorting is not possible.
Some of the used clothes are graded for re-wear. Re-wear is when the product can be used again for its original purpose (for example second-hand clothing). The primary product in this instance remains unchanged. This type of textile recycling is extremely effective from the ecological point of view, as the production and consumption of new textiles is reduced or eliminated.
Reuse is the use of the product for a purpose other than the purpose for which it was originally produced (for example, clothing as wiping cloths). Approximately 16% of the used clothes volume collected is reused for the production of wiping cloths due to its high level of absorptivity.
Recycling is defined as the reprocessing of substances and products in new production processes for their conversion into different materials or products.
Approximately one fifth of the textiles collected goes towards the production of recycling materials that are used as secondary raw textile materials in automobile manufacturing, mechanical engineering or in the printing industry.
Unfortunately, far too many tonnes of used clothes are still discarded with the regular household waste which eliminates the possibility of reuse. Please help us to minimise the percentage of textiles disposed of in household waste and bring your used clothing to the textile containers set up for their collection.