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Recycling scheme could stop 4m items of uniform being thrown away

The Textile Services Association (TSA) is in talks with UKHospitality to include the four million items of staff uniform its says are thrown away each year in a new recycling initiative.

The organisation has just launched a scheme to improve the recycling of textiles within the hospitality, catering and healthcare industries where every year over 30 million textile items, including sheets, duvet covers, pillow cases and towels, are thrown away. This equates to over 2000 tonnes, the majority of which ends up in landfill or incinerated. Meanwhile the cloth that does get reused often only gets one additional use cycle, as rags in sites such as garages, before also being disposed of.

Textile waste from the hospitality industry is ideal for recycling, as it is predominantly made of natural fibres, and white. The TSA has set up a project to research potential recycling solutions for the industry. It has teamed up with Swedish company Södra, which has pioneered a method that takes textile and re-engineers it into a pulp that can be used to spin cotton fibre yarns. A test shipment was recently sent to them to determine how suitable it will be for use in the UK.

The TSA is in talks with UK Hospitality about extending the scheme to include staff uniforms, however, the recycling of uniforms is more complex as they often use a mix of different materials and accessories that require separation first. Going forward, designing uniforms for recycling is one of the solutions being discussed.

Kate Nicholls OBE, chief executive of UKHospitality, comments: “We are delighted to be working with the TSA on their recycling project and it compliments perfectly our current campaign of Net Zero Carbon by 2030.”

David Stevens, CEO of the TSA, comments: “It’s a win-win for the environment as landfill use and incineration is reduced alongside less need for new cotton. It’s estimated that 20,000 litres of water are required for every kilo of cotton grown, not forgetting the risks of fertiliser run-off. Anything that reduces the impact this crop has must be good.”

With more companies and business sectors looking for innovative ways to reduce their environmental impact, David feels the time is right to consider bold and innovative solutions to the larger issues they face.

“We welcome all the feedback we’re getting and call on more stakeholders to come forward to discuss the individual needs of their businesses in order to make this scheme a success,” he says.

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