How To Start a Textile Recycling Business? [A Complete Guide]

. 10 min read
How To Start a Textile Recycling Business? [A Complete Guide]

Table of Contents:

1. Textile Waste Recycling

2. Textile Recycling Business

3. Different Types Of Textile Waste

4. Advantages Of Textile Waste Recycling

5. Textile Recycling Business Benefits

6. Old Clothes Recycling Business Website Information

7. FAQs on How To Start A Textile Recycling Business

1. Textile Waste Recycling

The covid-19 pandemic has driven consumers to demand more responsible and sustainable products. They are turning their backs on fast fashion and demanding more circular products. Textile recycling is an innovation that drives significant change in the energy and fashion sectors. A huge amount of used but wearable clothing goes to landfills every year. Just 12% of the clothing sold globally each year is recycled.

The rest is down-cycled to make products like insulation. Our current obsession with "fast fashion" is aggravating the situation. Textile recycling involves the process of material recovery and reuse of old fabric from clothes or upholsteries. It is then reprocessed to form useful products. 90% of used textiles are recyclable. The global textile recycling market grew at a CAGR of 19% during 2014-2019.

2. Textile Recycling Business

If we manage to recycle 100%, then our total carbon, water, and waste footprint will be reduced by as much as 20%. A study has revealed that 82% of what we consider as 'textile waste', can be recycled and resold; so it can be a huge supply chain for the brands. Many big companies are investing heavily in hydrothermal and mechanical textile waste recycling processes that will enable cellulose from textiles to be efficiently recycled.

It will then be used for spinning, weaving, knitting, and dyeing, thus covering the full fashion value chain. Textile waste recycling business involves sorting and processing old clothes, fabric, or unwanted textiles, so that the raw materials of which they are made, can be recovered. The end products can be clothing suitable for reuse, fibres, or rags and scraps. You can resell these products back to the fashion industry, and earn some income in the process.

3. Different Types Of Textile Waste

Textile wastes are of two types, depending on the place of origin: post-consumer wastes and post-industry wastes. Post-consumer wastes are those that are no longer needed and discarded from households. Post-industry wastes are those that are generated as by-products of apparel or home-furnishing industries. They are considered the purest form of waste since they are without any contamination.

Textile Waste Recycling includes:

  • Clothes
  • Shoes
  • Cushions, Pillows
  • Bags
  • Bedsheets, Duvets, Curtains, Table cloths
  • Curtains

4. Advantages Of Textile Waste Recycling

Results in 20 % in energy and water savings and less pollution as new fibres do not have to be purchased or transported. Reduces the need for landfill space. Reduces environmental load and greenhouse gas emissions through the efficient use of resources. Lessens demand for dyes. Less amount of chemicals are used, so it is better for the environment. Any budding entrepreneur can see an opportunity here. By starting a textile recycling business, he can give nature a helping hand and also earn money in the process. Here is a basic guideline on how to start a textile recycling business.

1- Space Required

You would need to rent or lease a space which should be enough for clothing intake and sorting. A 1000 square feet area will be sufficient to start your business.

2- Ensure the supply of unwanted textiles

You can arrange textile-recycling drop-boxes, and put them in strategic places in your neighbourhood; local schools, places of worship, are good ideas. You then start a campaign, telling the residents to put their old clothes in those boxes. Another way is to put textile banks near car parks, or on the high streets. Also, you can put advertisements in local newspapers for clothes donations. You can paint the bins in bright colours and write on them what types of clothing are accepted. They should be placed in high-traffic areas to encourage donations. You can equip the bins with GPS tracking and weight sensors to know when they are about to get over-filled.

Also Read: Blanket Brands in India

5. Textile Recycling Business Benefits

Another innovative way to collect would be to institute a curb-side pick-up system, similar to trash pick-up. You could deploy a truck carrying a sign for this purpose. Train your driver to pick the clothes by hand, and put them in the truck to be finally brought to the sorting warehouse. Another strategy to collect clothing could be to organise door-to-door collections or pick-ups. It is important to note that mildew can grow on wet textiles that leave them unusable. So better keep them away from moisture. Make sure to keep the drop-boxes covered and well protected from water or any moisture contact. You can also partner with a few retailers so that you can collect their unsold clothes or samples. In this way, these clothes won't find their way to a landfill.

1- Sorting

If you intend to do manual sorting, you need to hire experienced workers who can distinguish the different types of fabrics; for example, differentiate cashmere and wool by touch. For bulk work, you will need equipment like bins and conveyor belts to sort the incoming textiles based on the colour and the type of materials. After sorting out anything that is still wearable, the balance should be segregated into different categories. One category would be those textiles that can be used to make new clothing. The good quality garments can be sold in the second-hand market.

About 45% of the collected clothing is usable and 10% wearable. One category of fabrics can be cut down to make industrial wiping rags. For this, old t-shirts are preferred, because their cotton fibers are absorbent. The low-quality ones can be ground to make carpet padding or to convert into fibers. All buttons and rivets on the clothes have to be removed. Bulkier items like blankets and coats should be kept separately. Cotton can be recycled back to cotton, and the same with polyester; so those fabrics have to be labelled.

Textile Recycling Business

2- Estimate The Cost

You should calculate the cost of collecting the old textiles, as also the cost of transporting it for sale.

3- Finance

Textile recycling is a capital intensive business. To manage it you are going to incur a lot of expenses like chemicals, cost of equipment, staff wages, energy, site rental, and transport. Therefore, you have to have a financial plan in space. You need to put up the start-up capital and the working capital.

4- Identify A Buyer

After you have collected the old clothes, the next step is to find someone who will purchase your goods. It can be a textile mill, or a shop, or an arts and crafts store. Remember that the price that you will negotiate with them should cover your operating costs, and leave you with a profit. One-half of donated garments can be resold to developing countries or thrift shops.

Also Read: Top Waste Management Companies In India

5- Invest In Machinery

If you have the funds, you can set up a textile recycling plant yourself. For that, you have to invest in textile cutting and shredding machines to convert the left-over textiles into usable fibres that can be utilised for insulation or sound-proofing. A recycling machine can process up to 200 kgs of textiles per day. Balers are machines that compress waste items into blocks.

Polyester textile waste that contains a high percentage of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) can be transformed into clear, plastic bottles. For this, you will need a machine to granulate the item. They can also be melted and used to create new polyester fibres. So, you might need to buy multiple recycling machines to operate. This is a huge business opportunity worth crores.

6- Re-design Of Used Clothing

This is a very popular concept in the west. You can hire a designer to convert the used clothing into vintage clothes.

7- Production Unit

Further down the line, you can open a factory where fabrics will be opened, carded, spun into yarns, and transformed into knit fabrics. Some fibres can be compressed for textile filling, like in mattresses. Recycled yarns can be reused to make luxury blankets, or even new wool, depending on the fibre quality.

6. Old Clothes Recycling Business Website Information

You can create a website, and put all the information about the importance of clothes waste recycling business, for educating the public. It has been estimated that about 7% of the average trash in a household comprises textiles. Textile recycling offers several economic and environmental benefits; so, it is a great 'social business' to be a part of. Go for it if you are truly aligned with the cause and you can connect with like minded people.

Also read:
What are Organic & Eco-friendly Products? How to start this business?
How to become Environment Friendly?
Online Business Ideas You Can Start Quickly
Best investment ideas during the COVID-19 pandemic

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7. FAQs on How To Start A Textile Recycling Business

Q. How do I start a textile recycling business?

Ans- By ensuring the supply of unwanted textiles. You can arrange textile-recycling drop-boxes, and put them in strategic places in your neighbourhood; local schools, places of worship, are good ideas. You then start a campaign, telling the residents to put their old clothes in those boxes.

Q. What is textile waste recycling?

Ans- Textile waste recycling or Textile recycling is a fibre, fabric or yarn recovering process and reprocessing the textile matter into other useful products. The textile waste is collected from various sources and then sorted then processed depending on its current condition, design, and resale worth.

Q. What are textiles for recycling?

Ans- There are a lot of textiles that can be easily recycled. Some of the unwanted clothing along with items like-

  1. Clothes
  2. Bags
  3. Belts
  4. Curtains
  5. Lingerie
  6. Odd Socks
  7. Towels
  8. Blankets

Q. Why is textile recycling important?

Ans- By re-using the extant fibres and textiles, it diminishes the requirement for recently manufactured fibres. This help in saving water, energy, colourants and chemicals, which then results in lesser pollution.

Q. Which recycling business is most profitable?

Ans- These are some of the topmost profitable things to recycle:

  • Aluminium foils and medicinal packaging
  • Wood waste
  • Light Bulbs
  • Newspapers, Books, Magazines, etc.
  • Cosmetics & Food Packaging
  • Defective or old electronics
  • Dry ink cartridges
  • Car batteries & Tires
  • Glassware & Plastic Bottles
  • Scrap Metal
  • Aluminium Cans

Q. How does textile recycling work?

Ans- Textile recycling is an innovation that drives significant change in the energy and fashion sectors. A huge amount of used but wearable clothing goes to landfills every year.

Q. What percentage of textiles can be recycled?

Ans- Around 13% of textiles including footwear and clothing can be recycled. In the textile recycling business, this percentage is considered highly profitable in the industry.

Q. How much does it cost to start a recycling business?

Ans- A factory set up for old clothes recycling business or a textile recycling business can cost you around 5 to 10 Lakh Rupees in India. While the machinery set up can go anywhere from 3 lakhs to 40 and more depending on the sizes and capacity of them.

Q. How is textile waste recycled?

Ans- Textile waste is recycled by Mechanical processing.

Q. Where does textile recycling go?

Ans- In India, the textile percentage of post-consumer apparel that goes into this sector cannot be determined. India recycles pre-consumer textile excess from the productions and converts it into threads, which are finally spun into cloths.