In The News

Fashion companies would have to help recycle clothes under proposed California bill

By Brooke Staggs

Excerpted from the Orange County Register

It’s widely known that you’re not supposed to dump unused paint down the drain or in the trash, since it’s considered hazardous. Instead, you’re urged to drop off partially full cans, for free, at a city collection drive or local hardware store, where the paint gets reused or safely destroyed and cans are turned into something new.

What many people might not know is that all this was set up a decade ago, by state law, when California first started to make paint manufacturers pay for recycling and keeping their products out of landfills. Similar industry-backed recycling programs apply to mattresses, carpets and pharmaceuticals sold in the state.

Now, State Sen. Josh Newman, D-Fullerton, is proposing the same sort of “stewardship program” for California’s fashion and textile industries.

The goal is to slow the tide of clothing, towels, curtains, backpacks and similar items now streaming into landfills. While an estimated 95% of that material could be reused or recycled, Newman said only about 15% of textiles currently are diverted from landfills.

“If you could put in place a more rational system, where those things got sorted more deliberately, and then, you know, shunted in the right directions, we could really decrease the amount of waste that is coming from the system.”

Senate Bill 707, or the Responsible Textile Recovery Act of 2023, would make California the first state to require its thousands of fashion manufacturers to help set up free collection sites in every county where consumers can drop off unwanted items. Used clothes would be sorted, with items in good condition sent for donation to nonprofits such as shelters or Goodwill, and items with, say, loose zippers or small tears, would be sent to repair shops before going to those nonprofits. Used clothes deemed unsuitable for resale would be targeted for recycling, with designated centers breaking down fabrics into raw materials that could be made into new textiles.

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