UK Textile product flow and market development opportunities

The purpose of this report was to map the flow of all textile products moving through UK in 1 year, in order to identify market development opportunities which would increase the value of UK re-use and recycling textile markets.

Potential for textiles re-use and recycling

Mapping the flow of categorised textile products (clothing, footwear, household linens, carpets, mattresses and leisure) across the UK has provided the baseline evidence for future development decisions. Data was taken from a range of sources to build the flow for 2010, including surveys of textile reuse and recycling organisations. The flow identified that there is still a significant amount of textile material still going to landfill, which has the potential for re-use and recycling across most of the product categories.  

Three key areas of development are proposed

Firstly, to reduce the amount of valuable textiles reaching landfill through black bag waste using current infrastructure and communications. The potential income that could be realised through capturing just 10% of this material has been estimated at £25 million.

Secondly, to develop markets for recovered carpet and mattress materials. There are still limited markets for these recovered materials and the commercial viability of this type of opportunity rests on developing new and existing markets both in volume and value.

Finally, a number of new technologies to recover textile fibres from product have been identified but there is still significant development to realise the potential of this. Further testing of these technologies within a UK economy would be of value.


(June 2013: some text in this report has been updated but all the data remains the same)  

If you are considering or currently collecting textiles, you may be interested in our new textiles collections guidance.

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