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Clothing recycling on the rise in the Atlanta area

USAgain’s 2013 textile recycling totals show continued growth

Stone Mountain, GA. – Atlanta-area residents diverted 8.1 million pounds of clothing and shoes away from landfills in 2013, according to the Stone Mountain-based textile recycler USAgain, demonstrating that convenience plays a key role in the continued growth of people recycling their unwanted clothing and shoes.

By diverting 8.1 million pounds of textiles from landfills, USAgain and its patrons saved 24.3 million pounds of CO­2 from entering the atmosphere, over 4.8 billion gallons of water, and 19,905 cubic yards of landfill space. That’s enough to fill 797 garbage trucks.

With more than 14,000 recycling locations nationwide, USAgain provides local communities with a convenient option for discarding their unwanted clothing in an environmentally responsible manner.

“It’s great to see continued progress toward textile recycling and a growing recognition of the importance of keeping textiles out of landfills, which saves our planet’s precious resources, said Mattias Wallander, CEO of USAgain. “We’re looking forward to making even greater strides toward reducing waste in 2014.”

Although nearly all clothing and shoes can be re-used, Americans currently recycle just 15 percent of their clothing, with the rest – a total of more than 11 million tons – ending up in the garbage, according to data from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“A big picture goal of ours is to partner with more schools, municipalities and businesses to increase the textile recycling rate to 75 percent,” Wallander said. “Doing this would bring tremendous impacts in terms of resources conserved and carbon dioxide sequestered.”

Nationally, USAgain recycled a total of 55 million pounds of textiles. In addition, USAgain planted more than 200,000 trees around the globe in 2013, most in partnership with Trees for the Future, an agroforestry organization. The trees will serve to sequester carbon emissions and repair damaged ecosystems, helping to make the planet a greener, more inhabitable place.

For 2013 recycling information specific to USAgain’s national divisions, visit


About USAgain

USAgain – a leader in the textile recycling industry with corporate headquarters in West Chicago, IL. – is a for-profit company that recycles and resells reusable clothing and other textiles. Its mission is to provide consumers with a convenient and eco-friendly option to rid themselves of unwanted clothing and shoes, which is diverted from landfills. Recognized by the Better Business Bureau with an A+ rating, USAgain maintains more than 14,000 collection bins in 18 states.



People, planet, profit focus of Stone Mountain textile recyclers

Read the original story on, originally published 7.22.2013


The folks at USAgain (pronounced use again), a textile recycling company, like to say their business is a triple win—for people, the planet and profit.

“Yes, we’re a business, but we’re proud to be a business that’s good for the environment and that helps people in developing countries and here in the United States,” said Kevin Fitzgerald, USAgain regional sales manager, who works at the company’s Atlanta area office, located in Stone Mountain.

“Textiles are the worst things you can put in a landfill. When they decompose they create more pollutants than paper or plastic do,” Fitzgerald continued. He cited EPA figures that American households discard a total of 25.4 billion pounds of textiles annually.



“We are a green enterprise seeking to keep clothes out of landfills because all too often, clothes get tossed in the trash. Almost everyone understands and recognizes recycling aluminum, glass, paper and plastic, but unfortunately not enough people recycle their used clothes and shoes. According to the EPA, just 15 percent of clothes are reused or recycled, although all clothing and shoes can be reused or recycled,” Fitzgerald said.

“I especially like that we hold events at schools, not just because school children are growing and generate a lot of used clothing,” he said, “but because we are educating the next generation, making them aware of how recycling benefits the planet and all of us who live on it.”

“Approximately 70 percent of the world wears second hand clothes,” explained USAgin Division Manager Kim Boedskov. “In many places people don’t have the same standards we have. People are OK with clothing that’s out of fashion, a little worn or even with small stains.”

He said that while his business deals in discarded items, passing such items along as giveaways in developing nations does not help their economies—but selling them at a low price does. “Leaders in these countries discourage giving clothes to people there. People have more pride and dignity when they can raise a crop, sell it and have a little money to shop for inexpensive used clothing. The local shopkeepers get to make money as well,” added Boedskov, who said he has worked in developing African and Asian countries and seen firsthand the needs of the people there.



In the United States, thrift stores are a growing business, he said, noting that in 2009 there was a 12.7 percent increase in the sale of used clothing, compared with the previous year. During that same period, retail sales overall were down 7.3 percent, he said, citing U.S. Department of Commerce data.

Boedskov, who is originally from Sweden, said textile recycling is more common in European countries, but even there only an estimated 30 percent of textiles are recycled. In addition to clothing, towels, bed linens, draperies and other cloth items can be recycled. Many of the items are reused as they are, he said. Others are taken apart for a second use. “In India, they often pull the yarn out of sweaters and reknit it into a new garment. Wool can be used and reused indefinitely. Even clothing that is too worn for reuse can be shredded and used in insulation and furniture stuffing, for example.” Even items people don’t normally think of putting in collection bins, including used underwear, can have a second life, he said.

USAgain collects items for recycling in its green and white collection bins, which are placed in commercial areas with permission of the property owners. Right now, Fitzgerald said, there are approximately 1,000 bins in Georgia, 47 of which are in Decatur. The company also has 100 bins in Alabama.

“We try to make it as convenient for people as possible. People will recycle if it’s easy for them. So far this year, Decatur and USAgain have recycled more than 93,000 pounds of textiles and prevented the emission of more than 653,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere in doing so,” Boedskov said.