The Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has awarded £150,000 for research into the waste implications of cheap imported clothing and the development of market and technical solutions for the subsequent recycling problems. The funding has gone to the Salvation Army Trading Company, the Nonwovens Innovation and Research Institute (NIRI) and Oakdene Hollins for a joint project entitled 'Recycling of Low Grade Clothing Waste'.
Two main areas will be focused on in the project: economic and policy analysis and technical and market development. The project will look at the implications of changes in clothing policy and price brought about by the termination of the Multi-fibre Agreement, possible changes to the collection of waste textiles such as doorstep collections, and options such as producer responsibility measures.
Research will also go into using innovative technology to make high value nonwoven products from grades of clothing that are no longer wearable. The project also hopes to generate new markets, as traditional markets for products such as flocking and wipers are increasingly unattractive for textile recyclers.