As of November 22, 2022 , all textiles are banned from trash disposal sites in Massachusetts. Henceforth, these items need to be recycled. MassDEP announced on November 1, 2022 that it has expanded its waste disposal bans by adding textiles and mattresses to the list of materials banned from disposal or transport for disposal in Massachusetts. For waste disposal ban purposes, textiles are defined as bedding, clothing, curtains, fabric, footwear, towels, and similar items. Virtually any textile can be reused, repurposed, or recycled if clean and dry. Even worn, torn, and stained items have recovery value. Certain contaminated textiles are exempt from the disposal ban. For definitions, see the regulations.
Options for disposal are just starting to emerge as communities organize means to divert textiles from the waste stream. Massachusetts residents can use the Recycle Smart MA: Beyond the Bin search tool to find recycling and donation centers where they can drop off unwanted items, according to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection website, but at the moment, that site offers no options in Western Massachusetts. There are currently textile drop off bins at Amherst Regional High School. The town of Shutesbury has set up a textile drop box near the site of the new library on Leverett Road. Greenfield has arranged for twice monthly pickup by the Hartsprings Foundation, from the Chapman municipal parking lot. Hartsprings will also arrange pickups from residences. One town in Eastern Massachusetts, Natick, has begun curbside pickup of textiles. Mass.gov lists a number of manufacturer mail in and take back programs. Additional options are expected to emerge as the ban kicks in.
Textiles by the Numbers
- Residents currently throw away nearly six times more clothing, shoes, and other textiles than they donate, recycle or repurpose.
- Residents and businesses dispose of approximately 230,000 tons of textiles annually.
- More than five percent of the waste delivered to combustion facilities is made up of clothing, curtains, towels, and other fabrics.
- About 85 percent of the textiles currently being thrown away could be donated, reused, or recycled instead.
The infographic below illustrates what a waste un-recycled textiles truly represents.