Textile Waste

US: FABSCRAP expands operation to Philadelphia

The New York based non-profit is set to upcycle leftover textiles destined for landfill in Philadelphia as well.

FABSCRAP now stands to recycle textile scraps in Philadelphia.

The New York based non-profit set to deviate commercial fabric scraps from landfills is up for funding from Nordstrom and Urban Outfitters. The former intends to set up an online portal for brands and designers as a means for them to access environmental data compiled by FABSCRAP, while the latter, in return for securing the Philadelphia branch, intends to hold the first seat on FABSCRAP’s advisory board.

The service offered by the material upcycler is a sustainable waste management solution for unfinished samples, cuttings, deadstock material on rolls, embellishments and leather skins, seeing as these materials are less likely to be accepted for re-sale by traditional NGO’s.

Rendering the material cuttings ready for reuse in the creative industry, FABSCRAP essentially supplies students, artists, designers and crafters.

First, the organisation picks up the used textiles which will already have been sorted into separate black bags (for items with proprietary logos) and brown bags (for items intended to be sold). At a FABSCRAP warehouse, hardware such as zippers and buttons will be removed, the scraps being then sorted by fabric content.

Proprietary items contained within the black bags are then shredded via fiber-to-fiber technology. The end-product is then repurposed in the form of carpet padding, furniture lining or moving blankets.

Non-proprietary textiles contained within the brown bags are made freely available to proponents in the creative sector.

These solutions are not completely fool-proof, however- as of now, material waste in the form of spandex (also known as lycra and elastane) can’t be easily recycled, which destines these scraps for landfill.

According to McKinsey & Company, 100 billion garments are produced on an annual basis.

In the US, less than 3 million tonnes of textile are recycled each year, while over 6,3 million tonnes of textiles are wasted in the design and production process. This contributes to a yearly economic loss of $410 billion worldwide.

FABSCRAP CEO Jessica Schreiber originally formed her company in 2016 to tackle the textile waste crisis, a situation aggravated by brands such as Nike and Burberry incinerating unsold merchandise.

The organisation was the first to provide an infrastructure for the recycling of raw materials.

It now serves to facilitate compliance with a New York law that requires companies which produce more than 10% of textile waste to recycle said waste, an option that prior to the institution of FABSCRAP was difficult to comply with and rarely enforced. This is because waste carriers undergo contracts with buildings rather than brands across several floors, which renders enforcement difficult on the street level. An adaptation of current textile waste policy to reflect this could help boost recycling rates whilst raising awareness on the topic itself.