Project status: Ongoing

Project Partners: Metro Vancouver, Leverage Lab, City of Vancouver, Vancouver Economic Commission, Society of Recycling of Textiles BC, Debrand

Project Description:  It is estimated that 4.3%, or 36 million kilograms annually, of garbage generated in the Metro Vancouver region is from textile waste.  On top of that, every year, graders and sorters in the region collect millions more kilograms which are either resold to overseas second hand markets or turned into rags.

It is important to understand the quantities, volumes, and materials ending up at the region’s disposal facilities, as this aids in characterizing flow of textiles in Metro Vancouver.  At a regional level, the quality, quantity, and fibre-type of donated textiles is not well known, but this data is critical to inform industry and government on how to best support textiles diversion through policies and programs.

This research is being carried out to help better understand the movement of material, starting with identification of stakeholders and interviewing to characterize their roles in the textiles market.  Once the major players have been identified, sampling from major graders and sorters and from major textile collectors (thrift stores and other donation locations) can take place, followed by modelling to determine likely end fates of materials donated in the region.  Additionally, mock inspections are taking place at transfer stations to estimate volumes of textile material received.

After establishing a clearer picture of current regional practice around disposal, recycling and reuse of textiles, the next steps will be determination of policies and programs that can support textiles diversion.

Engagement Opportunities:  There is a lot of opportunity for new industry partners and for further research on textiles innovation, including design for durability and recycling, recycling of textile materials, and determining new end markets for textiles.