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.