Clean and Dry, Worn or Torn – Recycle It All!*

Textile reuse and/or recycling is an extremely easy strategy for saving energy and reducing waste. By banning textiles and mattresses in Massachusetts solid waste (effective November 1, 2022),these materials will no longer be able to go in the regular trash and MUST be recycled or donated.

Textiles not only have market value, but recycling them will help the state reach its goal to reduce waste by 30% in the next decade. For textiles, ‘recycling’ does not mean throwing them in your curbside recycling bin. Textiles must be recycled separately.

Read below for information about:

  • general textile reuse & recycling
  • mattress recycling
  • frequently asked questions
  • additional resources

GENERAL TEXTILE REUSE & RECYCLING

Though many residents already donate used clothes, many hesitate to donate ripped or stained clothing and do not recycle throw rugs, bedding, shoes, and stuffed animals. 

Did you know?
  • Massachusetts residents and businesses trash of about 230,000 tons of textiles per year, and about 95% of that could be reused or recycled. (Mass.gov)
  • 10% of New England’s trash is textiles. That’s 100 pounds per person, per year. (Helpsy)
Options for Arlington residents:
  • Textiles cannot be put in curbside recycling bins with plastic, glass and paper. They are recycled separately.
  • The Town has partnered with textile recycler Helpsy for FREE curbside pick up of clothing, textiles, and shoes. To schedule a pick-up visit www.helpsy.co/arlingtonma or call 1-800-244-6350. 
  • All elementary and middle schools have a Bay State Textiles bin located on the school grounds and the schools earn funds for every ton they collect. Recycle any and all textiles in the bins.
  • The Fox & Robbin Shop accepts donations of children’s clothing and shoes in very good condition. Proceeds support our libraries.
  • The monthly Arlington Reuse & Recycling Center collects textiles for recycling.
  • Second Chances is a Somerville/Cambridge nonprofit that serves those at risk of homelessness, and their collection bin can be found at the Arlington Reuse & Recycling Center and in the Whole Foods parking lot. 
  • Planet Aid and Red Cross boxes are hosted by many Mass. Ave. service stations, and both are international nonprofits. 
  • Area used goods and consignment stores.

MATTRESS RECYCLING

As of Nov. 1, 2022, mattresses CANNOT be put on the curb with your trash. As a state, we have both a limited and diminishing capacity at landfills and combustion facilities, so removing mattresses from our waste stream is a key step in reducing our waste.

Did you know?
  • Residents are not being asked to take apart their mattresses, professional recycling companies will do that for us. 
  • Once disassembled, more than 75% of mattress components can be reused. 
  • More than 600,000 mattresses & box springs are discarded annually in Massachusetts. (Mass.gov)
Options for Arlington residents:
  • Curbside collection by ToughStuffRecycling.com, $45 per until, credit card online payment, pickup a free plastic bag after you have an appointment – at DPW, 51 Grove St. during business hours, 8 AM- 4 PM weekdays. 
  • Donate mattresses in good condition to Household Goods in Acton, MA or find organizations that accept mattresses at Beyond the Bin Recycling Directory.
  • When you buy a new mattress, have the old one collected by the store.
  • Sell or give away a mattress in good shape via online platforms.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can I place my textiles in the curbside recycling bin with my plastic, glass and paper?

No. Textiles must be collected and recycled separately from plastic, glass and paper.

What general textiles are accepted?

General textiles (not mattresses) such as clothing, accessories, shoes, linens and stuffed animals are accepted.

What general textiles are not accepted?

Items not accepted include:

  • Moldy, wet, or mildewed items
  • Carpet, rugs and rug pads
  • Mattresses
Can shoes and sneakers go in general textile recycling?

Yes! Shoes and sneakers in any condition are accepted.

Can I put sheets, bedding, blankets and curtains in general textile recycling?

Yes, in addition to small throw rugs  up to 2’x4’, rolled and ties closed.

Do items need to be washed before putting in general textile recycling?

All donated items must be dry and free of mold or mildew. It is recommended to wash textile donations before donating.

Can I recycle ripped textiles?

Yes, ripped, stained or broken (i.e. zippers) textiles are accepted.

Can I mix clothing that could be reused with bedding, shoes and non clothing textiles?

Yes, all textile donations are sorted upon receipt.

Can I recycle stuffed animals?

Yes, stuffed animals are accepted.

Can I recycle accessories such as belts, backpacks, hats, duffle bags and pocketbooks?

Yes, these items are accepted.

Can I recycle pillows, couch cushions, lawn furniture cushions, foam products (mattress pads, etc.), carpet remnants, and rugs?

Unfortunately, these items are not accepted by either Helpsy or Baystate Textiles at this time. Refer to the Beyond the Bin Recycling Directory for local resources that will accept these items. 

What happens to recycled textiles?

A majority of the waste from textiles and mattresses can be easily recycled. 

  • foam padding from mattresses can be repurposed into carpet underlayment or animal bedding
  • springs of box springs are often already made from recycled scrap metal, and can also be recycled as scrap once again. 
  • clothing is sorted into grades by the recycler and about 45% are sold to second hand clothing stores here and abroad for reuse. 
  • remaining materials can be repurposed as rags and wipes that are used by commercial garages and other public works operations. 
  • some materials are also broken down to their fibers and used for insulation, carpet padding or soundproofing materials.

*updated May 2023

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