Caring for our environment, HP

Recycling old clothes could save taxpayers £4million-a-year

Recycling old clothes and sheets instead of throwing them in the bin would save Surrey taxpayers more than £4million-a-year.

An analysis of rubbish thrown away in Surrey has found that 10,500 tonnes of unwanted clothes and home textiles were discarded last year even though they could have been used again or recycled into useful products.

It means the average person threw away more than 9kg or 20lbs of textiles – the approximate weight of 46 T-shirts or 10 pairs of trainers.

Surrey County Council and the county’s 11 district and borough councils spend more than £1million-a-year disposing of unwanted clothes and textiles and also miss out on raising more than £3million-a-year from recycling the items.

The materials thrown away could be worn again in the UK or abroad or turned into products such as felt, insulation or stuffing.

A campaign launched by Surrey’s councils is aiming to reduce the volume of old clothes and home textiles thrown in the bin. Items that could be recycled instead include shirts, coats, towels, bags, belts, curtains, tea towels and pairs of shoes or boots.

Clothes for recycling can be torn or tatty, as long as they’re clean and dry.

The campaign is also urging charities and community groups in Surrey to organise their own collections of unwanted clothes or home furnishings to raise money for their causes.

Groups could raise hundreds of pounds through a collection scheme set up by Surrey County Council, which encourages them to gather unwanted textiles from their supporters and send them off for recycling.

Mike Goodman, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Environment and Planning, said: ‘Many of us donate old clothes to charity shops, pass them down to friends or family, sell them online or use recycling services but more than 10,000 tonnes of clothes and home textiles still ended up in the bin last year.

‘Only 21 per cent of clothes and textiles that are discarded in Surrey are separated for recycling – the rest end up in general waste and that’s not good for the environment or the council taxpayer.

‘Clothes and textiles can be recycled even if they are not in good condition, as long as they are clean and dry.’

Recycling banks for clothes and home textiles are located in all Surrey’s community recycling centres as well as in many car parks in town centres and at supermarkets.

In some parts of the county, the local council also runs a collection service that picks the items up from homes along with other waste and recycling.

For more information on how to recycle clothes and home textiles where you live, visit your district or borough council website or go to For more information about setting up a fundraising collection visit the Recycle for Surrey website or call 0771 4770 774.



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