LA Sanitation and Environment releases its first-ever Circular Textile Report.

In a news release this past Monday, LA Sanitation and Environment (LASAN) publicized its first Circular Textile Report, aligning with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Pollution Prevention week. 

The report was assembled by LASAN’s LA Industry team with the goal of reducing the effect textile scraps have on landfills and the environment. This team collaborated with California Product Stewardship Council (CPSC) and used $25,000 of funding from the Goldhirsh Foundation to execute a pilot study. This study’s goal was “to determine the best reuse and material stream management strategies that aligns with the City’s Green New Deal,” according to the news release.

LA City’s Green New Deal is a sustainability plan that was released in 2019 and outlines the steps that are being taken in the “battle against climate change.” It includes many targets for the coming years such as renewable energy, environmental justice and waste and resource recovery. The Circular Textile Report is aimed at forwarding some of these targets. 

“With the release of the Circular Textile Report, we hope to understand and inform the public how we can continue to improve our efforts to reduce the impact of textile scraps from manufacturers to the landfill,” said LASAN Director and General Manager Barbara Romero in the news release.

The main part of this Circular Textile Report was the Textile Recovery Project Final Report. This report outlined the full scope of the study done and the recommendations that were given after it was completed. 

According to this report, textile manufacturing contributes somewhere between 3% and 10% of the greenhouse gas emissions responsible for climate change. Along with that, the report cites that the clothing industry’s production and usage also results in water pollution, the release of microplastics into oceans and pesticide pollution. 

The commercial clothing industry is not the only contributor to the pollution caused by textiles. The report also commented that an increase in consumption patterns in clothing has resulted in millions of tons of textile waste that ends up in landfills or illegally dumped or littered. 

Contracted with the CPSC, a nonprofit organization, this pilot project’s scope was focused on how possible it would be to collect and repurpose post-production textile scraps. Along with this nonprofit, L.A. County Public Works funded a coinciding project that analyzed the textile waste of hotels, detention centers and hospitals.

Neither project included residentially generated textiles or all commercial textile generators. The report did emphasize, however, that the priority in creating this study was a commitment to reducing the environmental burden in particular put on disadvantaged communities by textile manufacturing and waste. 

Overall, the report concluded that these key components were necessary for success in a textile recovery program. 

First, the process of collecting unwanted textiles has to be accessible and convenient for all of the participants. Second, the areas of education and outreach should be prioritized even if there is not a centralized collection program put in place. Third, there needs to be ongoing funding to address more of the challenges and operating costs for the sorting, transportation and storage of the recycled textiles. Lastly, the report recommends an emphasis on the importance of shared infrastructure that would save money and add incentives for all the programs involved. 

For individual consumers, the EPA’s Pollution Prevention website urges people that they “have the power to reduce and prevent pollution. Whether it be limiting the amount of trash [they] generate, or simply buying products that are safer for the environment, [they] can make a difference.”