SMART Member Conference to Focus on Increasing Awareness of Textile Recycling

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Annual Conference to Highlight Arizona Curbside Clothing Recycling Program and Collection Bin Education

Lou Buty, President, Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association

Our member companies are working hard everyday to divert used clothing and household textiles out of municipal landfills and into re-use and recycling programs.

Increasing the awareness of the benefits of clothing and textile recycling will be a main point of focus when more than 95 attendees representing 50 member companies of the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART) gather in this weekend in Scottsdale, Arizona. In its most recent report on solid waste, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that each year more than 13 million tons of recyclable clothing and textiles is dumped into the nation’s landfills while 2 million tons, only 15.3%, is reused or recycled.1

The SMART convention will be held at The Fairmont Princess from Saturday, March 1st through Tuesday, March 4th in Scottsdale, Arizona.

“As the Association of for-profit clothing and textile recyclers, we are the engine that drives the economics of the clothing and textile recycling industry. Whether it is by partnering with a charity to operate a recycling collection bin program or by operating the curbside collection program of a municipality,” says Lou Buty, President of SMART. “Our member companies are working hard everyday to divert used clothing and household textiles out of municipal landfills and into re-use and recycling programs.”

Buty says more than 95% of all clothing and textiles can be re-used or recycled. As long as an item is odor-free and dry, even if it is stained or torn, there is a use for it in the world of textile recycling. According to Buty, the infrastructure is already in place for many of our nation’s municipalities to add clothing and textiles to their existing recycling programs. “Increasing the amount of clothing being recycled is a win-win for charities and municipalities,” says Buty. “People already know they can donate clothing to charities and by getting municipalities and charities working in partnership, the amount of clothing being recycled will skyrocket.”

This year’s conference will focus on educating executives from SMART’s member companies on how to work with local governments to successfully regulate clothing collection bins in their community. As the leading voice of the clothing recycling industry, SMART has a Code of Conduct for its members that operate clothing collection bins and has developed a template of legislative language for municipalities to use when regulating collection bins.

“Unfortunately we often see local officials moving toward banning clothing collection bins,” says Jackie King, SMART’s Executive Director. “Not only does this eliminate a convenient way to recycle used clothing, it also increases the chance these recyclable items will wind up in the waste stream.”

SMART’s Code of Conduct and Legislative template language both require a company operating collection bin program to be transparent regarding their business model (i.e. for-profit vs. non-profit). In addition, the document’s requirements include: having permission before placing a collection bin, to have contact information on the bin, to meet all zoning regulations, and to respond in a reasonable amount of time should an issue arise with a clothing collection bin.

According to King the Association’s newly-formed Collection Bin Committee will hold an educational seminar during the conference. The seminar is aimed at educating SMART members on how to promote positive relationships with local elected officials and to work with those officials to implement SMART’s recommended legislative language.

The conference will kick-off with a presentation by Ramona Simpson (Queen Creek, AZ Department of Public Works) and Larry Williams (United Fibers of Chandler, AZ) on the newly launched curbside clothing and textile recycling program in the Town of Queen Creek. To date the program has diverted more than 27,000 pounds of materials out of the town’s landfill and into a recycling program.

“There are many exciting efforts underway in the used clothing and textile recycling industry. It’s not only the Town of Queen Creek here in Arizona that is adding clothing and textiles to its recycling program. Recently officials in San Francisco, California announced they are adding clothing to the City’s municipal recycling program. We want the public to consider used clothing and household textiles just as recyclable as they do their aluminum cans, plastic and glass containers and paper products,” says King.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, recycling textiles has a greater impact on reducing greenhouse gasses than recycling other household materials. In its 2011 study of Municipal Solid Waste, the U.S. EPA calculates the impact the current level of textile recycling has on reducing greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the United States. The EPA report indicates the 2 million tons of textiles currently recycled annually is the equivalent of removing 1 million cars from America’s highways. This is more than 5-times the impact of recycled yard trimmings (170 thousand cars removed); is more than 4-times the impact of glass recycling (210 thousand cars removed); is more than plastic recycling (640 thousand cars removed); and is nearly equal to the impact of aluminum recycling (1.3 million cars removed).2

For more information on the convention, visit the association’s website at:

For additional information on SMART, contact Paul Bailey at the Fallston Group at 410-420-2001 or by email at paul.bailey(at)fallstongroup(dot)com.

1 Table 1, Page 7. Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2011.
2 Table 5, Page 12. Municipal Solid Waste Generation, Recycling, and Disposal in the United States: Facts and Figures for 2011.

Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles (SMART) is an international nonprofit trade association that strengthens the economic opportunities of its diverse membership by promoting the interdependence of our industry segments and providing a common forum for networking, education and trade. Since 1932, SMART has been at the forefront of recycling. SMART members use and convert recycled and secondary materials from used clothing, commercial laundries and non-woven, off spec material, new mill ends and paper from around the world. SMART member companies create thousands of jobs worldwide. SMART members prove each day that you can make money by being socially responsible.

For additional information on SMART, visit the association’s website at The following link will take you directly to informational videos on textile recycling


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Paul Bailey
Fallston Group, LLC
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