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GOOD PRACTICE: Proven technology and techniques for profitable environmental improvement

This Good Practice Guide was produced by the Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme

Prepared with assistance from: ECOTEC Research and Consulting Ltd

Crown copyright. First printed June 1997.

This material may be freely reproduced except for sale or advertising purposes. Printed on paper containing 75% post-consumer waste.


This Good Practice Guide is one of a series of four Guides on solid waste management in the textiles industry. Each of the four should be read in conjunction with a separate leaflet, Waste Minimisation - Elements for Success (ET80), and each Guide can be read as a stand-alone publication for the sector concerned: s s s s worsteds and knitwear; woollens; cotton and man-made fibre; garment manufacturing and household textiles.

The cotton and man-made fibre sector has high raw material costs and low profit margins. Substantial amounts of solid waste - cotton and man-made fibre waste, yarn cones and packaging - are generated which account for a significant proportion of operating costs. Reducing waste can therefore make a considerable difference to a companys profits and competitiveness. This Guide seeks to encourage companies to minimise their waste and, where waste is unavoidable, to dispose of it in the most cost-effective way. Practical measures are suggested to help companies in the different sectors reduce, re-use and recycle their solid waste. Various possible markets exist for cotton and man-made fibre waste, including: textile merchants and reclaimers; healthcare products; felt manufacture; shoddy clothing; household textiles; agricultural uses; geotextiles; and industrial applications. Card and paper waste can also be recycled, while the market for plastics waste is growing. Cotton waste in the spinning sector amounts to 10 - 15% of total cotton consumption, and in the weaving and finishing sector to 5 - 6%. Although waste quantities in the man-made fibre sector are less significant, they nevertheless represent a considerable amount of money. Mixtures of cotton and man-made fibre are much more difficult to re-use or recycle, making waste prevention imperative when spinning and weaving mixed fibres. Most companies in the cotton and man-made fibre sector also generate large quantities of waste yarn cones, plastic bags and cardboard cartons. The landfill tax has increased the cost of waste disposal to landfill for all companies, while new regulations on packaging waste have given added impetus to the need to develop recovery and recycling schemes for packaging waste. Industry Examples throughout the Guide highlight the cost savings and other benefits achieved by textile companies that have already adopted a structured waste management approach with an emphasis on waste minimisation, re-use and recycling.


Section 1 Introduction 1.1 1.2 1.3 2 The cost of waste in the cotton and man-made fibre sector Cost savings from waste minimisation The purpose of this Good Practice Guide

Page 1 2 4 5 6 6 6 7 8 10 11 11 12 14 14 16 17 17 19 19 19 19 20 22

Waste management opportunities in the cotton and man-made fibre sector 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Obtaining value from your waste Cotton and man-made fibre waste Used yarn cones Packaging waste Reducing disposal costs

Waste management opportunities in blending, carding and spinning 3.1 3.2 Waste prevention Waste re-use, recycling and sale

Waste management opportunities in weaving and finishing 4.1 4.2 Waste prevention Waste re-use, recycling and sale

Markets for solid waste 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Cotton and man-made fibre waste Card and paper waste Plastics waste Wood waste Markets within company groupings

Conclusions and action plan Useful contacts



Waste costs money. Each year, waste can cost the average UK manufacturing company 4% of turnover. Reducing the amount of waste your company produces will save you money which will increase your profits and help you to remain competitive. Most companies can achieve savings of at least 1% of turnover through waste minimisation. Even companies which seem efficient produce waste. Waste is not just discarded solid materials. It also includes wasted time, loss of materials to air and to drain, excessive use of energy and water, and product giveaway through overfilling packages and containers. One company involved in a waste minimisation initiative had originally estimated its annual waste costs at something over 70 000, although no single person or department could quantify the precise value or volume of the different waste streams. A waste survey showed the true figure to be much larger. The companies involved initially identified possible savings of 1.4 million. Waste minimisation is a systematic approach to minimising the production of waste at source. A company can usually reduce the amount of waste it produces. Alternatively, there may be ways to put unavoidable waste to good use through re-use or recycling. Finally, a company may have to consider treating its waste to make it less harmful to people and the environment. Fig 1 summarises this waste management hierarchy.


Recycle in-house
Recycle off-site
Fig 1 Waste management hierarchy

Waste reduction increases profits

Assume that a textiles company with a 4 million turnover makes 5%, or 200 000 profit each year. Waste costs the company around 120 000, or about 3% of turnover, as a result of unnecessary material costs (reduced yield) and disposal costs. Reducing these costs by only 10% will put 12 000, or an extra 6%, on the bottom line. In many companies it will be possible to reduce waste by 25% or more, adding at least 15% to the profit.


Sound waste management practices have many advantages for companies in the cotton and manmade fibre sector, including: s Lower operating costs due to: s s s s reduced cotton and man-made fibre consumption, ie increased yield; reduced consumption of other raw materials, eg packaging; reduced waste disposal costs.

Increased revenue from unavoidable waste. Improved site efficiency. Improved product quality. Enhanced public image. This will make your company more attractive to customers and investors and help it retain its place on approved suppliers lists.

Real benefits from systematic waste minimisation

An independent weaver in East Lancashire began monitoring its various waste streams and systematically identified options to eliminate or reduce them. As part of this waste minimisation programme, the company prepared an action plan and produced graphs showing the amount of waste generated each month as a percentage of production throughput, ie the number of pieces produced. This approach became part of a wider environmental and quality management system and enabled the weaver to reduce its waste to less than 3%, improving site efficiency and saving money. The company is committed to reducing waste even further through a programme of continuous improvement.

1.1.1 Cotton and man-made fibre waste
Waste is purchased raw material that is subsequently not sold as product. This is particularly significant for companies in the cotton and man-made fibre sector where raw material costs are high; cotton typically costs at least 1.20/kg, polyester at least 1.10/kg and nylon around 2.10/kg. These costs generally represent a high proportion of operating costs, while profit margins are often less than 5% of turnover. Although the industry has traditionally regarded itself as thrifty, fibre and packaging waste levels are still significant.

Yarn waste in the cotton and man-made fibre sector

Spinning sector Waste = 10 - 15% by weight of cotton consumption.

A spinner using 2 500 tonnes of cotton/year typically produces 250 - 375 tonnes of cotton waste. The figures are even higher for low-grade cotton. For cotton costing 1.20/kg (more for higher quality cottons), this level of waste represents 300 000 - 450 000/year, excluding sales of waste. Weaving sector Waste = 5 - 6% by weight of cotton consumption.


A mill processing 3 000 tonnes of yarn/year typically produces around 180 tonnes of waste cotton. For yarn costing 3.50/kg, this represents 630 000/year, excluding sales of waste. Man-made fibre sector Waste quantities are less significant than for spinning and weaving, but they still represent a considerable amount of money.


Packaging and other solid waste

Most companies in the cotton and man-made fibre sector dispose of large quantities of plastic yarn cones, plastic bags and cardboard cartons - often without recovering any revenue and sometimes at a significant cost. Introduction of the landfill tax in October 1996 significantly increased solid waste disposal costs for all textile companies, while the UK Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 1997 have implications for most companies.

UK Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations

These Regulations apply to companies that handle more than 50 tonnes of packaging a year and have a turnover greater than 5 million/year (this threshold will reduce to 1 million/year in 2000). Companies are required to take responsibility for the recovery and recycling of their obligation amount for particular materials. The calculation of the obligation is complex and is a function of: s s s the amount of packaging handled; the activity obligation (raw material manufacturer 6%, converter 11%, packer/filler 36%, seller/final retailer 47%); the UK recovery/recycling targets (recovery: 40% by 1998 and 50% by 2001; recycling (by material): 8% by 1998 and 15% by 2001).

Many companies have some sort of obligation under more than one of the activity categories. A garment manufacturer, for example, would normally have responsibility for the packaging used to pack its product at the 36% and 47% obligation; the latter where packaging is used for transit and has no further use (it is effectively sold to the customer). Companies can register individually with the Environment Agency or pass on their obligations to a collective scheme. In all cases, however, companies are required to collect data by weight.

For advice and information about current regulations governing the disposal of solid and other wastes, contact the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794.


There are many no-cost and low-cost measures that your company could implement to reduce the amount of waste it generates and to manage its unavoidable waste more efficiently. Recent waste minimisation initiatives in the UK, eg the Humber Forum Waste Minimisation Project, have demonstrated that waste minimisation saves money and makes companies more efficient, more profitable and more environmentally sound.


Substantial savings from reducing finishing waste

A small weaver/finisher manufactures 500 pieces of cotton cloth/week, each worth 75 or 1.25/metre. Until recently, the company left 330 mm of rough, unusable material at the end of each piece to allow a semi-continuous finishing process that includes raising/cropping. The extra length was cut off at the end of the process to give a finished 60 metre piece as required by the customer. The company was therefore losing about 0.55% from each piece. This waste was costing 206/week or 10 000/year (excluding the small income from waste sales). About 100 mm of this extra length was in the overhang beyond the seam joining adjacent pieces. The remainder was in the area of rough material containing the label which had to remain intact throughout the finishing process. The label itself was 50 mm wide. The company was able to halve this waste to 150 mm by: s s resetting the magic eye on the raising/cropping machine to give the minimum margin as the stitched join approaches the cutter blade; reducing the width of the label to 25 mm to fit into this smaller area of rough fabric.

Finishing waste now amounts to 0.25%, costing the company 94/week or 4 500/year. These simple measures have therefore saved the company 5 500/year for no cost. In some cases, pieces can be joined using special sewing machines. This virtually eliminates the seam overhang and reduces the waste still further to around 60 mm. Introduction of new bar codes capable of surviving the finishing process would allow the effective label width to be reduced to 6 mm or less and thus produce further savings. A realistic waste of only 20 mm/piece would produce savings of over 9 000/year.


This Good Practice Guide provides a framework to help companies in the cotton and man-made fibre sector save money and improve their environmental performance to become more profitable achieved through a systematic approach to their solid waste management. A range of practical nocost and low-cost measures - with an emphasis on waste minimisation - are suggested, both in general (Section 2) and sector-specific (Sections 3 and 4). Possible markets for waste materials from the cotton and man-made fibre sector are also discussed in Section 5. Generic measures applicable to all sectors of the industry are summarised in a separate leaflet, Waste Minimisation - Elements for Success (ET80), which should be read in conjunction with this Guide and is available free of charge through the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794. The Industry Examples in this Guide highlight the considerable cost savings and other benefits that have been achieved by textile companies that have already followed a systematic approach to their waste minimisation. The practical measures described in this Guide will be useful to companies of all sizes and to those seeking to reduce their waste within the framework of an environmental management system (EMS) such as ISO 14001 or the EC Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS). There are four stand-alone Good Practice Guides in this series on solid waste management in the textiles industry. These Guides, which are all available free of charge through the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794, cover: s s s s worsteds and knitwear; woollens; cotton and man-made fibre; garment manufacturing and household textiles.


Make good practice your standard practice


This Section describes sound waste management practices of particular interest to companies in both the spinning and weaving sectors of the textiles industry. General measures applicable to all sectors of industry are summarised in a separate leaflet, Waste Minimisation - Elements for Success (ET80), available free of charge through the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794.


s Keep a careful record of all waste amounts. For example, you could record yarn consumption and waste in a central log or the process operators could do this at the machine/process itself. A manager can then maintain an overall record of yarn/packaging consumption and waste production in a central waste management file or book. It may save time in the long run if you enter all records on a computer spreadsheet. Motivate staff to reduce waste through training and feedback.

Staff incentive scheme

One weaver has achieved positive results by running quizzes with environmental themes to heighten environmental awareness among its employees. Prizes such as energy-efficient light bulbs and home composters are awarded.

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If you are part of a multi-site company or group, enquire whether your sites wastes could be re-used or recycled by another site or part of the group. Consider all wastes as a potential source of income. Where possible, give each waste quantity a financial value using the raw material and disposal costs of the relevant yarn or textile. Never consider redundant stock as waste - try to find alternative customers. Separate all wastes at source in clearly labelled or colour-coded containers. Remove accumulated wastes from working areas regularly to avoid possible contamination. Make sure you are not disposing of containers that still contain yarn, cones, card, etc. Contact as many different waste merchants and recycling specialists as possible to obtain the best deal for the amount and type of waste your company produces. Specialist textile merchants may offer a better price for a particular waste (see Appendix).

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s s s Remind staff handling fibre/yarn/material of the need to keep it clean and thus avoid contamination. Keep fibre/yarn/material covered whenever possible to avoid contamination. Sort all fibre and yarn waste at source and store it in covered containers with clear labels for future re-use or sale. This will reduce contamination and increase the value of the waste. For example, a spinner/weaver in Lancashire stores all its non-extracted waste - eventually reusing 60% and selling 40%, so there are no disposal costs.

Sort wastes as much as possible according to value. For example, separate out: soft unprocessed waste from hard processed waste; undyed from dyed yarns; cottons from man-made fibre and blends.

In each case, the former is considerably more valuable than the latter. For example, some companies divide carding-condenser wastes into separate streams according to quality and whether it can be re-used. s s s s Where appropriate, use an ultraviolet light source to separate polyester from cotton. Talk to your suppliers, eg spinners and chemical companies, about the possibility of them taking back waste yarn for recycling. Consider over-dyeing coloured yarn-waste black for re-use or resale. Consider storing larger quantities of surplus yarn, eg those in unfashionable colours. You can never be sure when a certain yarn or colour may be in demand again and thus worth its full value.


s s Separate out plastic and cardboard yarn cones for re-use or resale. Make cone re-use and recycling easier by using cones printed with a code denoting the cone type.

Eliminating cone labelling

A company which runs a spinning mill in Northern Ireland has achieved savings of 8 470/year by switching to cardboard cones pre-printed with identification codes. This has eliminated the need to manually attach printed labels to cones. The payback was immediate as there were no capital costs. Printed labels can still be used subsequently to allow re-use of the cone.

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Where practicable, re-use yarn cones on site. Plastic cones can generally be used many times while cardboard cones can be re-used two or three times. Use detachable labels or waterproof stickers rather than self-coloured cones as the latter can be used with only one type of yarn. Co-ordinate cone collections in your area wherever possible to maximise transport efficiency. This may be possible through a local waste minimisation club. Stack cones inside one another to minimise the space required for storage and transport. Where possible, standardise to one type of cone to make re-use easier. Urge your trade association and equipment suppliers (see Appendix) to consider an industry standard for cones and for cone labelling. If you have a problem with cone-machine compatibility, talk to your equipment suppliers about the possibility of fitting adapter kits for specific cone types or to allow a wider variety of cones. Most modern looms can accommodate almost any type of weft cone without affecting product quality. Mark skips clearly to avoid contamination, eg plastic cones being put in with cardboard waste. Where cones cannot be returned or re-used, sell them to plastics and cardboard recyclers. There may be a company in your local area which can use cones and which is willing to remove them from your site free of charge.

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Revenue gained from the sale of plastic cones

A small commission weaver in West Yorkshire produces 84 kg of plastic cone waste each week, for which it receives 14 pence/kg from a plastics recycler in Bradford. While this seems a small amount, the annual saving is typically 540.



Remember that you may now have an obligation to arrange for the recovery of a proportion of the packaging that you handle. Excess packaging will unnecessarily increase this obligation. Use returnable pallets and containers where possible and ask your suppliers to do the same. This is already standard practice in some companies. Return boxes, crates and pallets to your suppliers, if possible. If not, re-use them on site, eg to separate or store wastes, or pass them to other companies that can use them. Return hessian and plastic bags to your suppliers, if possible. If not, re-use them around the site or pass them to companies that can use them. For example, large bags can be used to collect yarn and paper waste or to collect contaminated/dirty wastes.

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Successful re-use of plastic bags

A Lancashire weaver shares its site with a sister company that makes ribbons. Every pack of yarn received by the weaver from its spinners is wrapped in an individual plastic bag. Instead of disposing of these bags to landfill, the weaver passes them to its sister company to use as packaging in the delivery of its final product. Both companies benefit - the weaver from lower disposal costs and the ribbon-maker from reduced expenditure on packaging materials.

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Minimise the number of different types of plastic bag on site to make recycling easier. Talk to your suppliers about standardising their packaging. For example, various plastics are used for bale wrappings. Mixed packaging waste has a lower value. Talk to your suppliers about making packaging easier to recycle. For example, stickers on plastic bale wraps have to be removed by hand. These stickers could be eliminated by writing directly on the plastic wrapping. Sort all cardboard wastes at source to maximise revenue. In particular, separate out cardboard cartons as these attract a higher price. Flatten the cartons carefully to minimise storage volumes and transport requirements.

Cardboard segregation and sale

Until recently, a small commission weaver paid 4 140/year to dispose of cardboard packaging. Sorting allowed the number of waste skip lifts to be halved, saving around 2 000/year. While the revenue from the cardboard itself amounts to around only 100/year, the total benefit of 2 100/year makes a worthwhile contribution to the bottom line.

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When cartons reach the end of their useful life, add them to the paper and cardboard waste for recycling rather than to the general waste. Cover card/paper skips and label them clearly to avoid contamination with other valuable wastes, eg yarn cones and metal waste. Establish a separate storage area/container for plastic waste such as worn-out yarn cones, spindles and plastic bags. You may be surprised how quickly these build up into saleable quantities. If your company has large volumes of plastic and cardboard waste, consider buying or leasing a baler or compactor. If your company generates large volumes of plastic waste, consider purchasing or leasing a plastics granulator. Granulated plastic is generally more valuable than plastic in bag or cone form. Seek out merchants that deal in more unusual wastes such as hessian bags. Look for companies that specialise in the resale or recycling of used cardboard cartons (see Appendix). Shop around for the best deal when seeking a merchant to dispose of your cardboard and paper wastes. Even free removal of card and paper helps as this will reduce the cost of your general waste disposal.

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Ask for details of recyclers and specialist waste merchants in your area from the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794.

Substantial savings from packaging waste initiative

A company operates a modern spinning mill producing acrylic and acrylic blend yarns for the industrial knitting sector. A major initiative to minimise, re-use and recycle packaging has produced savings of over 100 000/year. The projects, which had a combined payback of seven months, included: s s s s s s eliminating the use of polythene bags on individual cones of light-coloured yarns; replacing one-trip conventional cardboard cartons with collapsible, re-usable cartons; eliminating the use of polythene packaging for bales of waste yarn sent off site for re-use; re-use of woven polypropylene sacking from incoming acrylic fibre; recycling polythene sheeting and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) strapping from incoming yarn bales; recycling waste cardboard and paper.

Savings have been achieved through reductions in the cost of buying and handling packaging, transporting waste and waste disposal. Further details can be obtained from the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794.


Increasing waste disposal costs are having a significant impact on many companies in the cotton and man-made fibre sector of the textiles industry. Before disposing of any waste, you should consider all possible options for re-using or recycling the materials. If disposal is unavoidable, you should consider ways of reducing your costs. Waste Minimisation - Elements for Success (ET80) describes measures you can take to implement a waste minimisation plan and thereby reduce waste and disposal costs. This leaflet, which should be read in conjunction with this Guide, is available free of charge through the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794.

Reduced transport costs with a compactor and baler

Use of a compactor to reduce the volume of general waste that cannot currently be re-used or recycled has enabled the management of a spinning mill to reduce the cost of transporting this waste to landfill by over 5 000/year. The payback period was slightly less than two years. The company has also bought a new baler to improve the compaction of bales of waste yarn sent off site for re-use. The more compact bales have reduced transport costs by 14 500/year, a payback of less than ten months. The baler is also being used to bale waste packaging materials for re-use and recycling off site.



Most cotton waste from blending, carding and spinning operations consists of condenser, sliver and fly wastes. These wastes, which typically amount to 10 - 15% by weight of cotton consumption, have already been eliminated or minimised by some spinners through measures such as those described below.


Waste prevention is even more important when spinning mixed fibres rather than pure cotton because of the recognised problems of dealing with mixed fibres.

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Consider installing pneumatic systems to move fibre during blending/carding/roving. Enclosed ducting minimises the loss of fibre compared with manual transport using drums. Fit opening/blending and carding/combing machinery with undergrids and extraction systems. Ensure that carding machines and other equipment are covered and fitted with an extraction system to minimise fly and dust in the factory. This will allow the fly to be collected for sale rather than becoming part of the dirty sweepings. Use carding machines which: have a waste end return unit, ie a pneumatic system that returns fibre waste to the feed hopper; monitor the thickness of the sliver produced during carding. Such monitoring will allow the carding engine to be stopped if the sliver goes out-of-tolerance.


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Consider using dual-feed, cross-carding machines, or a cross feed from one machine to the next to provide high-quality and even sliver. Consider fitting stop-motion and re-splicing devices when buying new spinning frames and winding machines or when retrofitting equipment. One company estimates that it has recouped the cost of fitting electronic stop-motion devices within six months through reduced yarn waste. Fit spinning and winding frames with vacuum (pneumafil) extraction units to remove broken thread to a clean, covered container. Ensure that humidity and temperature control equipment is properly maintained. Less-thanoptimum conditions will result in more breakages in the thread, lower productivity, lower product quality and more waste.

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Other measures
Keep different fibre types/yarns segregated and labelled in separate areas of the warehouse. This avoids mix-ups and potential waste. Monitor waste according to the type and quality of fibre used. This will allow you to build up a picture of the levels of waste that can be expected in each case; in general, the higher quality the cotton/fibre, the fewer the breakages and the lower the waste levels. You may even find that cotton from a certain supplier results in less waste than the same grade of cotton from a different supplier.


Plan production to minimise waste from carding and blending. For example, make sure batches of the same type of fibre/colour follow on, eg cotton follows cotton and polyester follows polyester. This reduces waste by removing the need for a stabilisation phase to eliminate fibre cross-contamination. Encourage your cotton supplier to use high-density polyethylene (HDPE) rather than polypropylene (PP) bags. HDPE bags are less likely to split (causing contamination) and are easily recycled, whereas PP bags can fail and allow contamination of the cotton and hence the yarn and the fabric. Where possible, supply yarn in carefully sealed cartons or containers. This avoids the need to wrap yarn cones in individual plastic bags, saving you and your customers effort and money.



Cotton and man-made fibre waste (see also Section 2.2)

Put any waste from the initial blending process, eg droppings, straight back into the blend. If this is not possible, segregate and store this waste so that it can be put back into the next blend of the same quality/mix. Segregate valuable wastes by type and quality, eg cotton, polyethersulphone (PES) and viscose, and store each lot for appropriate re-use. Keep a record of waste stocks by allocating each a lot number. If storage space is at a premium, store only the highest value yarns and those in regular demand. Sell other wastes to a merchant. Avoid mixing/blending different fibres, eg polyester and cotton, until as late in the process as possible, eg during carding or roving rather than at the opening stage. This will make it easier to segregate any wastes. During carding, cut any poor quality sliver from the collection roller and put it back into the carding hopper. This is easier where the roller is made of steel. If the carding engine cannot cope with the tightly rolled sliver waste, condenser waste and yarn waste produced, consider purchasing or leasing a pulling machine to allow their re-use. Consider sending harder wastes to be processed by a reclaimer. Some companies can recover a high percentage of their carding wastes in this way. Sell your fibre waste (see Section 5). Several spinners have found good markets even for short-fibre carder/combing wastes. Extraction fan filter wastes are sold to a variety of endusers, eg toy manufacturers to use as stuffing, farmers to use as animal bedding and undertakers to use in coffin linings. If you have a dye house on site, mixed-colour cotton waste can be re-dyed black for use in blends requiring black or for re-sale as black cotton. Good Practice Guide (GG62) Water and Chemical Use in the Textile Dyeing and Finishing Industry suggests ways of minimising chemical and water use during dyeing. This Guide is available free of charge through the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794.


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Yarn cone waste (see also Section 2.3)

Minimise the types of yarn cone in use. This will make it easier to re-use cones and reduce costs for all concerned. It is far easier for a weaver to deal with large quantities of one type of cone than small quantities of many different types. Discuss the issue with your customers to establish the best practicable solution. Where possible use multi-trip plastic cones that withstand dyeing pressures. These robust cones can tolerate many trips if they are returned to the spinner by the customer. The use of non-collapsible cones can also eliminate the need to rewind the yarn after dyeing. This eliminates a process, thus contributing further to cost cutting.


Use of multi-trip yarn cones

One spinner reduced plastic yarn cone waste by maximising the use of re-usable cones. Rugged cones, which can tolerate a minimum of eight round trips via the dyer and weaver, are used wherever possible. Although such cones cost 10 - 12 pence each, the cost per trip is only 1 penny (for an average life of 10 - 12 trips). This represents a considerable saving over onetrip plastic cones which currently cost approximately 3 - 4 pence each. Although many spinners build the cost of the cone into the price of the yarn, some companies have introduced a deposit-return system which explicitly identifies the cost of the cone. Many weavers appreciate both the lower cost of the yarn and the opportunity to return the cones.

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Consider the possibility of a deposit-return system for cones. Talk to your customers about this. Consider introducing a low-charge, deposit-return scheme for cardboard cones. Cardboard cones are more hardy than is commonly believed and can often tolerate two or three trips. Use true cone-shaped (as opposed to cylindrical) yarn cones. These fit neatly inside one another, thus allowing high overall packing density and reducing cone-return transport costs.

For packaging waste see Section 2.4.




For most weavers, cotton waste is typically 5 - 6% by weight of cotton consumption. Some mills, however, have already reduced waste to 3% through sound waste management practices.


Waste prevention is even more important when weaving mixed fibres rather than pure cotton because of the recognised problems of dealing with mixed fibres.


Consider buying a yarn length measuring machine. This will enable you to get just the correct length of yarn on each spindle/cone on the creel. A small amount of yarn left on each cone can add up to a significant quantity over the whole of a creel. This approach can practically eliminate creel cone waste. Make sure your creel is fitted with tensioners and stop-motions that work effectively. This will reduce the number of breakages and hence waste. Consider buying a modern warping machine. Newer machines can eliminate crossed ends, producing perfect warps with less waste. Some of the latest automatic pattern warping machines can also eliminate the need for a creel - these are worth considering where complex patterned fabrics are being woven from coloured yarns. If you regularly make long runs of a particular cloth, consider making longer pieces using longer warps. This practice produces less warping waste, ie beam ends and creel waste. For example, a 600 metre warp/piece generates only 10% of the waste from ten, 60 metre pieces. Always buy looms with stop-motion devices, ie drop-pins and magic-eyes, fitted to both the warp threads and the weft threads. Consider retrofitting stop-motions to existing looms. When considering the purchase of new looms, take into account the amount of waste a loom generates. For example, projectile looms generally produce less waste than rapiers and airjets. While older rapier looms produce a wide, 50 mm selvedge on each side (100 mm total and an inherent waste of around 7%), the latest rapier looms produce only 40 mm of selvedge waste in total - a 60% reduction. Looms that produce a neat tuck-in selvedge will help reduce weaving wastes. However, you should remember that a tuck-in selvedge may end up as waste with your customer. Adjust loom settings to minimise selvedge waste. For example, the timing of the cut (on the weft feed side) and the release (on the opposite side) on a rapier loom can be adjusted to minimise the width of the selvedge. In addition, the number of warp threads in the selvedge can often be reduced, from say 15 threads each side to 10. You should consult your loom supplier before making such alterations. Fit your looms with weft accumulators. These mechatronic devices ensure an even weft feed tension, thus minimising the number of thread breakages and improving the quality of the product. Because they eliminate weft tension variations, accumulators also permit most types of cone to be used on the weft feed.


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If possible, buy machines with electronic control systems. Such machines are generally more efficient, allowing optimum weaving and increased productivity. When considering new equipment, discuss with your clients whether it is possible to change from a wet (water-jet) loom to a dry loom. Although wet looms are considered necessary for maintaining quality levels for some types of nylon and polyester yarns, damp selvedge waste is much more difficult to recycle or sell. Keep up with machine developments via trade journals and equipment suppliers. For example, there are new looms under development that, in conjunction with the established, stop-motion mechanism, allow the automatic rethreading of broken yarn and machine restart. This reduces machine downtime and minimises fabric defects and faults. Evaluate the savings potential of various loom attachments. While these can add considerably to the cost of new looms, the payback is often shorter than you might imagine. Good Practice Guide (GG82) Investing to Increase Profits and Reduce Wastes explains how to carry out a simple financial appraisal. The Guide is available free of charge through the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794.

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Other measures
Keep different fibres/yarns segregated and labelled in separate areas of the warehouse. This avoids mix-ups and potential waste. Talk to your supplier about minimising the amount of packaging used to deliver yarns, etc. In most cases, it is acceptable for the yarn to be delivered in sealed containers without individual plastic wrappings. Use a light box to perch material as soon as it comes off the loom. Correct any faults on the loom immediately to avoid a recurrence in subsequent pieces. Consider using portable equipment for material testing, eg for colour accuracy. This removes the need to take samples from the production piece for laboratory testing. Care should be taken to ensure readings are valid as certain instruments can be sensitive to temperature and humidity changes. Take care when marking pieces of material with order/batch numbers. Keep the area used as small as possible. Manufacture only the length of material ordered by the customer. Avoid the temptation to over-produce to be on the safe side and be aware of the margin of error in your various processes. Unless you have a specific outlet, eg a factory shop, over-production is merely throwing away profits. When adding trimmings, supply the operator with pre-cut lengths of the material to avoid careless over-use. Use the minimum of materials to package your final product. Over-packaging can introduce a range of direct and indirect costs and increase your obligation under the new packaging regulations.

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Efficient packaging of pieces

A small spinner/weaver in Lancashire used to wrap cloth pieces individually and then pack them together in a polypropylene (PP) bale. Pieces are now wrapped individually in polythene. The benefits of this change include: s s s s s s no further need to buy PP; less packaging waste; lower disposal costs; pieces can be carried by hand instead of needing a crane to move the bales; no need to sew bales, thus saving labour costs and bale hooks; containers and aircraft holds can be packed more efficiently, thus reducing transport costs and lowering the export price.

The reduction in waste alone has produced annual savings of several hundred pounds, while the lower labour costs and improved export competitiveness have added thousands of pounds to the bottom line.


s s

Cotton and man-made fibre waste (see also Section 2.2)

Consider buying or hiring a winding machine. Such machines allow small amounts of residual yarn to be wound onto a new cone to produce a large usable cone. Consider weaving lower quality fabrics with mixed remnants of yarn. Consider using waste yarns in the selvedge warp yarns. This can reduce selvedge waste costs considerably. Where waste quantities are small, provide separate storage containers within easy reach of several looms to allow simple separation of yarn types and colours at source. When producing a wide product range and with production runs repeated at intervals, store excess yarn for re-use in the next production run. Where economically feasible, mend all material faults. Consider regrading fabric, eg from a chintz second to an industrial fabric. Good markets can usually be found for seconds. For example, many printers use large pieces (up to 200 metres) of cotton as a lead-in material to clean the rollers at the start of each print run.


s s s s s

s s s

Yarn cone waste (see also Section 2.3)

Encourage your yarn supplier to deliver yarn on re-usable plastic dye cones wherever possible. Where possible, return used cones to your original yarn supplier for re-use. Talk to your supplier about the possibility of deposit-return schemes for cones. Even cardboard cones should be returned to the spinner/dyer where practicable, since they can be used for rewinding after dyeing. Where it is not possible to return cones to your supplier (eg with a non-UK supplier), re-use cones on site or within the company/group, passing cones to the spinners or dyers who use this type, for re-use. When you need to buy additional cones (eg to allow full cones to be split onto partcones/spindles for the creel), buy used cones wherever possible to encourage recycling within the industry.

For packaging waste see Section 2.4. 16



The market for textile wastes varies considerably over time. While traditional markets for cotton waste have diminished, new markets are developing. It is, therefore, worth keeping track of the latest developments and market prices. The main markets for cotton and man-made fibre waste are indicated in this Section. Most companies deal directly with a waste merchant/reclaimer who passes on the waste and reclaimed flock to felting companies and other end-users. In some cases, it may be worthwhile approaching the felting and end-user companies directly. Note that even your low quality wastes such as fly waste and sweepings still have a value. A market can generally be found for even the shortest fibres and dusts.


Textile merchants and reclaimers

Textile shoddy merchants and reclaimers are located predominantly in Lancashire and Yorkshire. A selection of these companies is listed in the Appendix. Shoddy merchants trade in waste fibres and materials, while reclaimers take fabric waste and turn it into shoddy - including garments - and other hard waste such as yarn. Reclaimers willow, pull and/or garnet this waste to produce separate fibres. These are then blended to produce flock, which can be re-used for lower quality products including certain felts and blankets. Some reclaimers produce higher quality fibres where the natural and man-made fibre content is tested and certified. In some cases, there may be an advantage in dealing mainly with one company. Some merchants specialise in certain fibres and will buy predominantly from a particular sector. Some companies offer six-month contracts, during which period they are obliged to collect all waste, albeit at a variable price. However, it is worth contacting the merchants occasionally to obtain the best price for your particular type and quantity of waste. Prices vary considerably as a result of instabilities in both UK and overseas markets. It is also in your interests to encourage your waste merchants to consider all possible markets for their waste, including those noted below.


End-use markets

Textile manufacture A significant quantity of textile waste from the cotton and man-made fibre sector is re-used by spinners and by the chemical companies that manufacture fibres and filaments. Natural fibres and, to some extent, man-made fibres can be reclaimed for re-use, eg in spun yarn blends. Additionally, chemical companies that supply man-made fibres can now reclaim fibres - eg polyester, nylon 6 and nylon 6.6 - through depolymerisation and subsequent repolymerisation of the resulting monomers. These chemical companies, therefore, offer a market for certain types of pure waste. Shoddy clothing and rugs After a severe decline in the UK during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s, a handful of new shoddy manufacturing companies have been set up to supply ethnic style clothing in particular. Loom selvedge can be used directly in the manufacture of lower quality rugs. This sector has the potential to expand and should therefore be considered as a potential route for fabric and other textile wastes. 17

Paper manufacture Cotton, sisal, manila and hemp are used extensively throughout Europe in the manufacture of paper products, including wet-strength papers/sacks and banknote-style papers. This market is extremely large. Healthcare and surgical products Cotton and viscose are used extensively in healthcare products, eg feminine hygiene, disposable nappies, dressing pads and wipes. Excluding the large market for nappies, over 24 000 tonnes of short cotton fibres (mainly first-cut linters from ginning) and viscose are used in the UK for such products. Household textiles and toys Flocks, felts and other reclaimed textiles are still used widely: s s s s s as wadding for mattresses; as upholstery wadding and webs; in duvet and pillow fillings (new and recycled polyester); for the manufacture of dish-cloths, dusters and mops; to stuff toys.

The overall UK market is estimated at around 45 000 tonnes/year. Another use for textile waste - around 5 000 tonnes/year - is in carpet underlay.

Agricultural markets Agricultural uses have traditionally offered an important outlet for textile wastes. Short-fibre waste - including extraction fan filter waste and sweepings - is often referred to as shoddy manure. It is currently used as fertiliser, offering valuable nutrient content and good water retention characteristics. In the USA, cotton waste is used - with added supplements - as cattle feed. Textile wastes are also used for cattle bedding. Seed-impregnated felt reclamation blankets are now being employed, for example, in the innovative Landlife derelict land reclamation scheme on Merseyside. The blankets are laid on bare or rotavated ground to provide a firm base for growing seedlings. This market could increase, particularly if a derivative product can be developed for home gardeners. Production of a cheap peat substitute is another possibility for the use of textile waste in the garden, although it would be important to ensure that there was no risk of contaminants entering the food chain. The presence of certain trace chemicals can limit the use of textile waste in agriculture and other land applications. Readers are advised to contact the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794 for information about the current legislative position regarding the application of textile wastes to land. Construction and landscaping Woven and non-woven (bonded) textile meshes and webs - known as geotextiles - are used extensively in civil engineering and landscaping to provide soil stability, enhance plant rooting and screen out weeds. Even loose fibres can be used in conjunction with jute/hessian/polypropylene, providing a possible route for the re-use of bale sacks and short-fibre waste. Woven and non-woven textile wastes can also be used in sound insulation and heat insulation products. Automotive applications Automotive applications such as upholstery, sound insulation, anti-rattle pads and mouldings for vehicles remain an important market for certain textile wastes. The automotive market relies increasingly on recyclable materials, eg polyester is used widely in the manufacture of moulded interior car parts.


Other industrial markets A sizeable market for cloth waste exists within industry. This market includes wipes and, in some cases, chemical spillage kits. It may be possible to sell certain wastes directly to local companies involved in engineering, printing, surface coating, road haulage, etc.


The UK has numerous card and paper waste merchants and recyclers, both large and small. Some are listed in the Appendix. However, the market for paper and cardboard waste tends to fluctuate greatly and this is reflected in the prices paid. The price can also vary considerably from company to company, depending on such factors as volume and degree of contamination. It is worth contacting paper/card merchants regularly to obtain the best deal. There is a separate market for cardboard cartons and boxes, which attract a much higher price than normal card waste.


The market for plastics waste is growing, and there are now many plastics recyclers operating throughout the country. The price paid depends on the type of plastic, cleanliness and quality/grade. Many recyclers have now invested in full washing equipment which should allow greater use of contaminated plastics, eg dirty tops bags. In addition, processes are now available which allow dirtier feedstocks to be used for extrusion and compression moulding. Even if you have previously been unable to find a market for your plastics waste, it is worth contacting recyclers and waste exchange companies again in the light of these developments. Although granulation machinery is expensive to buy or hire, it allows plastics waste to be sold direct to plastic moulding companies at a much higher price. However, this is only worthwhile for larger companies and for formal/informal company groupings.



Most towns and cities have at least one pallet merchant who will be prepared to buy good quality pallets. Although good quality wooden pallets can be re-used, many pallets are designed to be single use only. Companies using cheap wooden pallets to manufacture chipboard products may be prepared to remove such one-way pallets, perhaps free of charge.


Company groups are in an ideal position to re-use their wastes in other parts of the operation. This avoids the need to pay disposal costs or for waste exchange services. Material costs are also reduced. The grouping need not be a commercial one. There may be scope for informal arrangements between local companies, perhaps using environment business clubs or waste minimisation clubs as the link. The aim should be overall minimisation of waste across the group of companies, preferably co-ordinated from a central point.



This Good Practice Guide describes a range of practical ideas to help you reduce waste, save money, and increase your companys revenue from unavoidable waste. Many of the measures involve little or no cost and are applicable to companies of all sizes. Measures that do involve some capital expenditure generally have a payback period of less than two years. Many of these practical measures are already being implemented within the textiles industry. Examples throughout the Guide demonstrate how companies that have adopted this positive approach to solid waste management are achieving real bottom-line savings.

The message is clear. If you want your company to stay ahead or at least keep up with the competition then:

Make Good Practice YOUR Standard Practice.

Read Waste Minimisation Elements for Success (ET80), available free of charge through the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794. Decide which of the general waste minimisation measures described in ET80 and Section 2 are appropriate to your company and begin to implement them now.

Consider the waste management measures specific to your sector (see Section 3 or 4). Identify those that are appropriate and begin to implement them now. If waste is unavoidable, keep up to date with market changes (see Section 5) and make sure you obtain the best possible price for your different wastes.

For large companies wishing to implement a waste minimisation programme, a detailed, systematic approach to waste reduction is discussed in a series of three complementary Good Practice Guides: s s s (GG25) Saving Money Through Waste Minimisation: Raw Material Use; (GG26) Saving Money Through Waste Minimisation: Reducing Water Use; (GG27) Saving Money Through Waste Minimisation: Teams and Champions.

For smaller companies and growing businesses, further ideas may be found in: s s s Good Practice Guide (GG38) Cutting Costs by Reducing Waste: A Self-help Guide for Growing Businesses; Finding Hidden Profit - 200 Practical Tips for Reducing Waste (ET30); Good Practice Guide (GG82) Investing to Increase Profits and Reduce Wastes.


All these publications are available free of charge through the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794. The Environmental Helpline can also: s s s arrange for you to be sent other relevant Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme publications; tell you about relevant environmental and other regulations that could affect your operations; arrange for a specialist to contact your company free of charge if you employ fewer than 250 people.



Appendix U S E F U L C O N TA C T S

A list of useful contacts is given below. This listing is not exhaustive and has been compiled from information currently available to the Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme. The listing of an organisation should not regarded as an endorsement of its services or products by the Programme. Similarly, the Programme makes no claim for the competence or otherwise of any organisation not listed. Further advice may be obtained from the Environmental Helpline on 0800 585794. Company
Paper/card Bargain Box Company Biffa Blackburns of Dewsbury Davidsons Waste Paper Leicester Paper Processors (Midland Waste) M&B Haulage and Waste Paper Services (Dewsbury) Plastics/cones AB Plastics Quay Plus S & G Ellis Winding Cones


Nature of business

01484 435322 01494 521221 01924 465958 01924 475245 0116 289 3421 01924 498199

Carton merchants Paper/card and plastics recycling Paper and card merchants Paper and card merchants Carton recycling/general waste Paper and card merchants

01274 394887 01535 609194 01924 260167 01535 275125

Plastics recycling Plastics recycling Polythene bag recycling Yarn cone recycling


Textiles J Bevan Robinson Clegg Wools J H Cockroft A N Cooke F Cordingley Henry Day & Sons Evergreen Haines Brothers Harr & Rhodes Landlife (Merseyside) James Robinson Fibres Metex I & A Peacock 01274 567476 01484 435222 01422 373311 01924 464361 01274 724680 01924 464351 01924 453419 01455 845855 01274 660018 0151 728 7011 01274 689400 01254 793893 01274 602316 Textile merchant Wool/textile merchants Wool/textile merchants Wool/textile merchants Wool/textile merchants Wool/textile merchants Shoddy garment manufacturer Wool/textile merchants Wool/textile merchants Derelict land reclamation charity Wool/textile merchants Textile merchant Wool/textile merchants


SRM M J & G Stross T D Whitfield Other Allertex Irojex Ltd Waste Exchange Services Ltd Trade associations British Apparel and Textile Confederation Council of British Cotton Textiles Local Action for Textiles and Clothing Nottinghamshire & Derbyshire Clothing and Textile Association Northern Ireland Textiles and Apparel Association Scottish Textile Association Textile Finishers Association Technology development British Textiles Technology Group UMIST Textiles Department

01257 475115 01924 465904 01274 613106

Nature of business
Textile merchant Wool/textile merchants Wool/textile merchants

01274 723783 0116 269 7989 01642 606055

UK agents for Dornier and Benninger textile machinery Suppliers of weft feeders National waste merchants

0171 636 7788 0161 834 7871 01484 450146 01623 440612 01846 689999 0141 226 3262 0161 832 9279

0161 445 8141 0161 200 4128




The Environmental Technology Best Practice Programme is a joint Department of Trade and Industry and Department of the Environment initiative. It is managed by AEA Technology plc through ETSU and the National Environmental Technology Centre. The Programme offers free advice and information for UK businesses and promotes environmental practices that: s s increase profits for UK industry and commerce; reduce waste and pollution at source.

To find out more about the Programme please call the Environmental Helpline on freephone 0800 585794. As well as giving information about the Programme, the Helpline has access to a wide range of environmental information. It offers free advice to UK businesses on technical matters, environmental legislation, conferences and promotional seminars. For smaller companies, a free counselling service may be offered at the discretion of the Helpline Manager.

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