In less than 20 years, the volume of clothing Americans discard each year has doubled from 7 million tons to 14 million tons, or approximately 80 pounds per person. A small percentage of this total is resold at Goodwill or Salvation Army stores. However, most of the clothing that is discarded is dirty or worn and is not salable. Some of this material is baled and sent overseas for sale to people in poor countries. But the majority of the items are simply sent to a landfill for disposal.
The goal of this IPRO project is to investigate methods for salvaging the fibers from discarded clothing and finding uses for it. One such method is already being used to recycle blue jeans into insulation material. This accomplished by processing blue jeans through a hammer mill. This IPRO project will explore other methods for recovering clothing fibers and repurposing them for profit or for social benefit.
In order to achieve the goal of the project, the IPRO team will begin by characterizing the materials in discarded clothing, and the available methods used to salvage fibers and the associated processing costs. The team will then develop creative concepts for reusing the fibers to offer value to the marketplace.