Every year over 300 million pairs of shoes are thrown out by the public in the UK, with the majority going to landfill. Recycling shoes and clothes can make a big difference to the environment.
The European Recycling Company (ERC) collects 800-1000 kg of unwanted shoes and textiles from Dover and Shepway District Councils every month, mainly from shoe collection points like Post Offices, launderettes and small shops.
ERC is part of SOEX Group of Companies which is the largest clothing re-wear and recycle company in the world. It has over 2,500 employees who sort, grade and redistribute the 1,000 tonnes that arrive every day. They handle over 1 billion garments every year.
All UK and European collections are shipped to their recycling facility in Wolfen, Germany which covers an area of 80,000sq m. The clothing is sorted to over 400 different grades, higher than anywhere else in the world. The factory exports rewearable clothing and shoes to over 85 countries around the world, with markets in Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia.
Once usable clothing and shoes have been sorted, the lower grade textiles can be still be recycled into a variety of different products, with the factory’s in house recycling facility creating bespoke mixes for industry and manufacturing. Nothing is wasted in the recycling process. Tons of zips, buttons and rivets are extracted and recycled. The dust that is generated in the process is compacted into briquettes and used in the manufacture of paper and concrete. Even the plastic bags the clothes and shoes are collected in are sent for reprocessing.
Closed loop manufacturing is the ultimate goal, and this can only be achieved through the successful retrieval of essential resources such as cottons, wool, acrylics etc., by providing the public with a convenient method to recycle their unwanted textiles. This helps to divert them from going to landfill, and using SOEX technologies, brings unwearable textiles back into the clothes manufacturing process. ERC have been working with major clothing manufacturers and retailers around the world to implement closed loop systems for these vital resources, to increase the recycled content of newly manufactured clothes and reduce the burden on the environment.
ERC works with Local Authorities all across the UK to improve recycling and reduce waste. At the same time it supports Variety, the Children's Charity, in its work with sick, disabled and disadvantaged children, by
- working to raise the profile of the charity
- providing financial assistance where the charity needs it most
ERC also works with other charities to assist them to raise funds for their chosen causes.