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Metro Vancouver hopes textile trash ban will encourage reuse

A proposed ban on clothing in disposal bins is modelled on the organics ban already in place

Clothing bins at The Rag Machine where thrifters can buy second hand clothing by the pound. Photo: Danica Walker
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Reported by Danica Walker

Metro Vancouver board member will be reviewing the proposal of banning textiles in disposal bins in January and according to a senior project engineer the ban still has a long way to go before it’s implemented.

According to their proposal page “Metro Vancouver is considering a disposal ban on clothing, which makes up about 2.3 per cent of garbage in the region.”

The textile ban would be modelled on the organics ban, where a surcharge is issued to those who dispose of banned materials in garbage, said Karen Storry, senior project engineer for Zero Waste Implementation at Metro Vancouver. The city will not provide bins for pickup of garments but will allow the private sector to handle textile waste.

Hope it will encourage reuse

Instead of textiles going into regional landfills Metro Vancouver hopes it will be put into established models for textile waste such as thrifting, donation bins or are made into new materials.

“From the research we did, less than one percent of the material of garments are actually made into new garments,” Storry said. “Clothing is not easily recycled into new garments with existing technology.

According to Storry, if the clothes aren’t sold in thrift stores they go to a clothing sorter-grader, who chooses whether or not the textiles can be made into new materials or sold overseas.  She said typically the clothes can be made into wiping rags -if it’s cotton- and insulation but they get more value by selling bulk clothing to overseas second hand markets.

Helps save money

Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver provide clothing donation bins and options for textile recycling as part of their fundraising model.

“The more donations we receive, the more use these clothes get. It saves on energy and resources, in turn, saving money,” said Mandy Wong, manager of development and marketing at Big Brothers of Greater Vancouver in an email to The Voice.

They are open to working with the government to support the textile ban.

“We work with our municipal government on social programming for the community, so it only makes sense that we partner with them on this initiative as well,” Wong said.

Ashley Haier, store manager at The Rag Machine, a second-hand clothing store, said sales have increased over the past year which she attributes to people becoming more conscious of recycling.

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