Textile Recycling Pilot

Textile recycling container

The City of Orlando has adopted a zero waste by 2040 goal to eliminate waste streams entering landfills and incinerators. Some ways this can be accomplished is by eliminating waste before it is created through redesign and reusables, using biodegradable materials for single use items and utilizing waste streams as commodities so they can find new lives as other products.

As do many organizations and municipalities, the City of Orlando purchases and distributes logoed shirts for employees. Currently if a logoed shirt is past its life or if an employee leaves the city, the shirt must be destroyed rather than donated/recycled due to safety and security concerns. Different departments have requested guidance on a more environmentally responsible solution. The Office of Sustainability and Resilience (Green Works) is seeking ways to uphold valid security concerns while reducing the burden on our waste infrastructure and facilities. Green Works staff has been in discussions with Waste Management (WM) to explore sustainable and secure solutions for this niche waste stream.


A Textile Recycling pilot program launched in summer 2020 and includes three departments. The scope of this program will only include the recovery of city logoed textile waste. However, in the future this program has the potential to grow into a wider city employee program or even a community-wide program to recover waste textiles that cannot be donated elsewhere.  

Currently, collected textile waste is being down cycled into household items such as insulation, cushioning and pet beds. In the future, the vision is to break down textile waste into fibers that can be used to make new textiles. This eventual goal of closed loop materials is possible through adding large partners such as the City of Orlando that will contribute to the materials flow into this market.  

  • Contribute to the city’s zero waste goal
  • Lessen the burden on local waste facilities such as landfills and incinerators
  • Responsible management of the city’s waste generation and tax dollars
  • Engage and educate city employees on zero waste and the circular economy 
  • Collaborate with local partners to innovate solutions to global challenges 
  • Develop new business relationships and pathways for niche zero waste markets and spur economic growth for sustainable companies (green economy)
  • Serve as a leader, role model and resource for solutions to niche waste streams 

Textiles are the fastest growing waste stream in the United States. Over 14 million tons of textiles go into landfills every year in the United States. The fashion industry is also concerned about a shortage of certain fibers in the near future, given the growth of “fast fashion.”

Facts on textile waste in the United States:

  • The current textile recycling rate is 15%
  • From 2000-2017, the textile waste generation rate increased 78%, while municipal solid waste grew only by 10%
  • Studies show that it takes anywhere from 919 to 2,900 gallons of water to produce a single pair of typical jeans

TextileTrackerSM has assembled a portfolio of supply chain partners that specialize in a variety of options for managing pre-consumer and post-consumer textiles. All hardware and accessories like buttons, zippers, and rivets are removed and remaining items are deconstructed by a mechanical shredding process. This process renders your branded apparel unrecognizable, and creates a valuable feedstock that can be repurposed into a growing number of fiber applications based on the fabric type and downstream market options.