Household Textiles: Consumer Research and the Business Opportunities

31st May 2016

This report, published in 2015, details a programme of consumer reserch to develop the business case and commercial opportunities in household textiles re-use and recycling.

Key findings:
The total UK market size for household textiles is approximately 270k tonnes per annum
Surveys indicate only approximately 5% of household textiles are collected
However, from the consumer research work WRAP undertook, between 1/5 and 3/10 of respondents stated that they recycled from between 20% - 30% of household textiles



As part of this research, WRAP focussed on three key areas of how consumers purchase, clean, repair and discard of household textiles. This involved undertaking three projects to gain an understanding of:

  • The household textiles market.
  • Consumer behaviour in relation to the purchase, use and disposal of household textiles.
  • Opportunities for businesses to reduce the environmental impact of household textiles.

The household textiles focussed on were:

  • Bedding (e.g. duvets and pillows)
  • Bed linen (e.g. bedsheets, duvet covers and pillow cases)
  • Curtains (fabric)
  • Cushions
  • Cushion covers
  • Mattress covers
  • Tea towels
  • Towels

The Summary report provides an overview of the work and identifies opportunities to improve the sustainability of household textiles.

For further details read the consumer research and business opportunities reports:

Download the summary report >>
Download consumer research report >>
Download the business case report >>



Report 1: Summary report

This summary report details the key findings from the consumer research conducted and gives essential recommendations to organisations in how they can use this research.

A quick summary of this consumer research can be found in the infographic below.

For further information, you can jump directly into sections of the summary report, using the links below:

Jump to:

Overview >>
Key facts >>
Household textiles: consumer behaviour >>
Recommendations for consumers >>
Household textiles: business case for reducing impact >>
Recommendations for businesses and organisations >>

Download the full report >>

Report 2: Consumer research report

The general lack of data on consumer practices, in terms of reasons for disposal, washing patterns and life expectancy of items, impedes developments within the industry to reduce the environmental impacts and extend longevity and active use of non-clothing textiles.

In February 2015, WRAP commissioned this research to explore practices around purchasing, cleaning, repairing and disposing of non-clothing textiles and begin to fill this evidence gap.

The two research objectives were to:

  • Gather detailed insight into consumers’ current practices in relation to non-clothing textiles in order to understand opportunities, engage relevant stakeholders and develop programme plans
  • Establish a baseline against which to compare future results enabling tracking of consumer behaviour change and associated attributable impacts over time

To find out the key outcomes and ways to apply the learnings in your organisation, you can use the links below to jump directly into the report:

Jump to:

Introduction and methodology >>
Purchasing >>
Cleaning, washing and drying >>
Repairing >>
Discarding >>
Summary and discussion, and opportunities >>

Download the full consumer research report >>

Report 3: Business case report

This report compliments WRAP’s initial consumer research and develops a business case which identifies the actions to reduce the environmental impacts (carbon, water and waste) of non-clothing household textiles.

The study evaluates the arisings of non-clothing textiles using desk-based research methods. It then goes on to use supply chain interviews to assess opportunities for environmental improvements.

To find out the key outcomes and ways to apply the learnings in your organisation, you can use the links below to jump directly into the report:

Jump to:

Background >>
Scope >>

Market characteristics >>
Product characteristics >>
Chemical finishes & treatments >>
End of Life >>
Collection >>
Sortation >>
Down Cycling >>
Reuse >>

Product details >>
Environmental impacts across the supply chain >>
Business case for improved resource efficiency >>
Conclusions & recommendations >>

Download the full report >>

Where next?

Want to know more about non-clothing textiles in sustainable textiles? Take a look at our reports, guides, tools and case studies for further information: 

Reports >>
Guides >>
Tools >>
Case studies >>