The National Association for Charitable Textile Recycling


Partnering for Textile

Role of Municipalities

Did you know whether a municipality intends to or not, its actions are affecting how unwanted textiles are managed in their jurisdiction? At NACTR, our experience has shown that the actions municipalities do or do not take have a huge impact on how unwanted textiles will be managed in their jurisdiction.
Would your municipality like to help divert more unwanted to textiles to higher end-uses? Municipalities can improve collection rates, decrease illegal dumping, and divert more textiles to higher end, local textile markets that benefit the Canadian economy and support local charities working to improve Canadian communities. Our FAQs below answer commonly asked questions.

Questions and Answers

Information at a quick glance
Municipalities across Canada are taking steps to improve the management of unwanted textiles. However, did you know that some municipal bylaws and enforcement practices might inadvertently harm legitimate charities and not-for-profit organizations, favouring bad actors instead?
NACTR member experience has shown that municipal bylaws can have negative and unintended consequences. Here are the top five issues that charities and not-for-profits face due to problematic municipal bylaws:
  1. Onerous Licensing Programs: Increasingly complex and costly licensing programs place a significant burden on charities and not-for-profits, particularly smaller ones, while favouring for-profit textile collectors. NACTR supports licensing programs when they are properly implemented, enforced, and reasonably cost-effective. However, every dollar spent on licensing is one less dollar that charities and not-for-profits can use for their charitable missions.
  2. Lax Rules Leading to Greenwashing: Current regulations allow residents to be misled into believing they are donating to charities or not-for-profits for local reuse, while in reality, their donations go to for-profit entities that often ship materials abroad or send them to ragging/shoddy operations. Many bin owners/operators either falsely present themselves as charities or remain unidentified.
  3. Lax Enforcement on Illegal Dumping: For-profit bin operators are increasingly allowed to operate in communities, leading to illegal dumping of unwanted materials at their bin sites to avoid landfill costs. Charities and not-for-profits bear the brunt of these costs as they face illegal dumping more frequently.
  4. Bin Theft: Each donation bin costs upwards of $1,000. There have been numerous instances where charity and not-for-profit bins are stolen, repainted, and rebranded by for-profit operators.
  5. Municipal RFPs Favouring Large or For-Profit Entities: Municipal Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are often written in ways that favour either for-profit service providers or only large charities/not-for-profits, making it harder for smaller organizations to access the market.
Your municipality can take action to ensure that charities and not-for-profits are not locked out of textile collection in your community. By addressing these issues, municipalities can support sustainable textile management and bolster the valuable work of charitable organizations.
Municipalities across Canada are setting ambitious Environmental and Social Governance (ESG) goals to enhance community well-being and sustainability. For instance, the City of Markham, Ontario, is dedicated to developing corporate and community initiatives that promote energy conservation and efficiency, green technology, food security, and environmental enhancement.
Textile diversion plays a crucial role in helping municipalities achieve these ESG goals in several ways:
  1. Reduce Waste: Currently, 85% of Canada’s textiles are discarded in landfills each year. Textiles have a significant environmental impact during both their production and disposal phases. Made from natural fibers like cotton or synthetic fibers like polyester—which comprises nearly 60% of the global fiber market—textiles constitute about 4% to 7% of Canada’s overall waste stream and 8% of the plastics waste stream. By diverting textiles from landfills, municipalities can substantially reduce waste. Approximately 50% of collected unwanted textiles can be resold locally, 25% can be sold in foreign markets, and the remainder can be downcycled into products like rags or shoddy.
  2. Reduce Climate Impacts: The global fashion industry contributes to 10% of global carbon emissions. By recovering and reusing or recycling unwanted textiles, municipalities can lower the climate impact associated with textile production and disposal. Reusing local textiles also reduces the carbon footprint by minimizing the need to transport textiles outside the jurisdiction. Additionally, local resale of textiles for reuse or upcycling into new clothing further reduces the environmental impact compared to exporting used textiles or downcycling them.
  3. Social Benefits: Capturing and reusing or reselling unwanted textiles through Canadian charities and not-for-profits generates significant social benefits. Proceeds from these sales are used to further the missions of these organizations. The charitable sector in Canada employs 2.4 million people, contributes 8.3% to the GDP, and generates $192 million in local economic activity. Every dollar of profit made by a registered charity must be reinvested into its charitable mission, ensuring that the benefits of textile diversion extend beyond environmental impacts to also strengthen community services and support.
Through these efforts, municipalities can make substantial progress towards their ESG goals by reducing waste and climate impacts while simultaneously fostering social and economic benefits within their communities.
The National Association for Charitable Textile Recycling (NACTR) has extensive industry knowledge, strategic resources, and network connections providing invaluable resources for municipalities seeking to implement effective textile recycling programs. By leveraging these resources, municipalities can enhance their textile diversion programs leading to significant environmental, economic, and social benefits.

1. Industry Knowledge: NACTR brings extensive expertise in textile recycling, guiding municipalities across the complexities of the industry. Our understanding of post consumer textile waste, recycling systems, and market dynamics is invaluable for promoting effective diversion programs.

2. Best Practices: NACTR provides access to best practices and successful examples from other regions. This knowledge can help municipalities implement proven strategies and avoid common pitfalls, ensuring more efficient and effective textile recycling programs.

3. Strategic Partnerships: NACTR can facilitate connections with key stakeholders, including recycling companies, non-profit organizations, and industry leaders. These partnerships can enhance the capacity of municipal programs and foster collaborative initiatives.

4. Sustainability Goals: Partnering with a NACTR member aligns with broader sustainability and waste reduction goals. Increased textile diversion reduces landfill waste, conserves resources, and decreases environmental impact, contributing to municipal sustainability objectives.

5. Economic Advantages: Textile reuse and recycling can create local jobs and stimulate economic activity. NACTR’s resources can help municipalities capitalize on these opportunities, fostering economic growth alongside environmental benefits.

6. Advocacy and Policy Support: NACTR can help municipalities advocate for supportive policies and regulations at local, provincial, and national levels. Our expertise can drive legislative changes that facilitate textile recycling initiatives.

7. Data Collection and Analysis: NACTR is tracking and analyzing data related to textile diversion across Canada. Accurate data is essential for measuring program successes, identifying areas for improvement, and reporting to stakeholders.

Municipalities can significantly support textile diversion efforts by consulting with NACTR before implementing licensing programs, bin requirements, requests for proposals (RFPs), and illegal dumping enforcement practices. NACTR can guide communities in achieving their goals, such as maintaining clean donation sites, without negatively impacting the financial viability of charities and not-for-profits. Here are some key actions municipalities can take:
  1. Set Textile Diversion Goals: Incorporate textile diversion goals into your Solid Waste Management Plans and allocate resources to encourage and facilitate textiles diversion. This can include advertising on community websites, listing clothing donation sites on ‘What Goes Where’ apps, and developing enforcement practices to discourage illegal dumping by both residents and for-profit entities.
  2. Partner with NACTR: Collaborate with NACTR and its members on community events like cleanups, clothing swaps, and environmental days. Refer to our Community Toolkit for more ideas.
  3. Use Nonprofit-Friendly RFP Processes: Structure RFP processes to favor the not-for-profit sector over the for-profit sector and ensure they do not discriminate against smaller charities. This will help smaller charities access the market and increase their capacity to collect textiles.
  4. Establish Dedicated Collection Sites: Create dedicated collection sites for textiles at public locations such as landfills and transfer stations. These sites provide residents with a convenient option to donate textiles instead of disposing of them.
  5. Offer Financial Incentives: Implement financial incentives, such as reduced tipping fees, for charitable organizations that meet specific criteria. This encourages charities to accept and test as much material as possible for reuse or recycling. With less financial risk associated with waste disposal, charities are more likely to take in more materials to evaluate their reusability. Think of second-hand stores as ‘reuse MRFs’ (Material Recovery Facilities).
By taking these steps, municipalities can drive donations of textiles to charitable organizations, support local reuse, and promote sustainable waste management practices. Learn more about best practices from other municipalities that have successfully implemented these strategies to prioritize local textile reuse in our Best Practices section.

Reuse for a Greener Tomorrow.

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