Markham’s textile and clothing reuse and recycling program is a game-changing example of a sustainable initiative that tackles both consumption and climate change. The now-permanent program began in 2015 with a textile recycling pilot project.
In Canada, 85 percent of textiles are thrown away without being reused or recycled. As local governments make gains in diverting other types of waste from landfill, the stigma around the safety and cleanliness of textile donation containers has kept municipalities out of the textile recycling business. But the City of Markham, Canada’s leading municipality in residential waste diversion, was up to the challenge.
The city launched its textile recycling pilot project in collaboration with well-established local charities such as the Salvation Army—amending its licensing bylaw to allow only registered charities to be part of the program.