Suffolk: Textile recycling ‘gathering momentum’ - but thousands of tonnes still heading to landfill

Viridor Recycling centre, Great Blakenham

Viridor Recycling centre, Great Blakenham

A RECYCLING boss has urged more people to think about how they dispose of textiles ahead of the anniversary of a pioneering Suffolk project.

Since textile recycling was introduced in Suffolk in July last year, 550 tonnes of textiles have been deposited in bags inside blue bins.

Although those behind the scheme – the first of its kind in the UK – say they are pleased by the response, analysis of black bins suggests thousands of tonnes of textiles are still being sent to landfill.

Malcolm Firth, chairman of Suffolk Recycling Consortium, which is made up of six waste collection authorities, said: “All the Suffolk councils have been very pleased with the response from householders over the early months of the textiles collection scheme. However there are still textiles going in people’s waste bins that could be recycled.”

He added: “The analysis we carried out at the beginning of last year told us that there were about 8,000 tonnes textiles going in to landfill from people’s black bins. So, being cynical you could say ‘Well if there’s 8,000 out there and you’ve only brought in 550 then that’s not succesful’. We would say otherwise. We have introduced a new scheme, we’ve been getting people familiar with it, making the mechanisms easy for participating – all of these things need a bit of momentum and time.”

Mr Firth said was still some problems with the wrong items being placed in textile bags, including dirty nappies, paint and oil.

He added: “It is not happening so much that the good stuff is being spoiled but we get about 5% contamination.”

Most Read

Mr Firth, who claimed the service wanted textiles that would be otherwise thrown away rather than quality garments that could go to charity shops said: “I would ask everyone to use the special textile bag supplied to you, tie the opening and place it inside your recycling bin but on top of your recycling. This enables the collector to see the bag and leave you with a replacement.

“You can get extra textiles bags by phoning 0845 603 9412, by email on or by collecting from your local library.”

Recovering 1,000 tonnes of textiles a year will save Suffolk nearly £90,000 in landfill tax and disposal costs.