Where Do Donated Clothes Go? You may not know this.
Chances are if you've donated clothes, they've passed through a factory in Port Klang, Selangor by the name of Brackwell. You may be wondering what happens from here, though.
- Bundles of clothes and textiles are shipped and stacked to the company's 5,400sqm factory, where they pile up nearly to the ceiling in mounds out of metal containers containing dresses, shirts, blouses, coats, sweaters, jeans, caps, sheets, curtains, shoes, handbags, belts and soft toys.
- From their piles and containers, they get sorted and picked through then determined by workers who can quickly determine the items' types and quality. In total, the company has 120 categories of products in which they sort their goods.
- The best garments, accessories, and textiles are sold as second-hand goods at the factory and the business's three Bundle Stores. Many of the usable goods are exported to Africa and other parts of the world where new clothing is not affordable for many. India, Pakistan, and the Pacific Islands are just some of the larger areas that receive exported goods' bundles.
- Those items that are damaged or stained, but are suitable as cleaning cloths, are recycled into industrial rags. Workers cut away elastic bands, zippers, buttons, sequins, beads, and stitched logos. They then cut large pieces of the cloth and send them through a metal detector and bundle them up in 10kg packages to ship them to the automotive industries who use them as wiping cloths. Even the scraps of these items are recycled with unsold bras to mix with materials in another company that produces engineered fuel for cement kilns.
- The clothing containing fibres such as knitwear, acrylic sweaters, wool, and coats is sent to India, where they are shredded to make fibres for use in making blankets or padding for carpet. The soft toys that cannot be sold are sent to another recycler in Malaysia who processes the stuffing into small fibre particles to create non-slip surfaces or as fillers for comforters and cushions.
- For shoes, the workers need to find a matching pair. They then will grade according to the condition of the shoes. Unfortunately, highly damaged pairs will go to landfills as plastics and rubber cannot be turned into engineered fuel. They release toxic fumes when being burned.
- The items that get thrown away are severely damaged or contaminated with oil. They either cannot be sold or not economically viable to be recycled like handbags and shoes. Handbags need a high amount of energy to burn with the plastics, leather, metal, zippers, studs, and rings, along with the fabric lining.
- Some of the lower grade items will still be shipped to rural areas of countries. Some people may not mind if their shoes match when working in fields and if handbags are a bit more damaged.
- The reduced amount going to landfills has gone from 6% to 2% just since the factory opened and a percentage of the earnings go to three charities in Malaysia.