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Who is SMART? Small and medium-sized businesses creating thousands of jobs and contributing to local economies. The world’s oldest recycling industry and truly “green” alternative.Founded in 1932, SMART is a non-profittrade association that represents some 200 Net exporters supporting U.S.small and medium-sized companies involved economic growth.in using, converting and recycling pre- andpost-consumer textiles and other secondarymaterials. Companies making the world a better place for those in need.This nearly $1 billion industry’s activities arevery diverse. Some SMART membersrecover and process “pre-consumer” by- Although the industry is still relatively unknownproducts from the textile and fiber industries by the general public, as you’ll see below, weto be used in new materials for automobiles, are actively supporting national priorities suchhome furnishings, and a variety of other as promoting sustainability/green, smallproducts. Other SMART businesses buy and businesses, exports, jobs creation and growth.sell “post-consumer” second hand textiles.Our companies buy excess donationscollected by charities like the Salvation Armyand Goodwill, thereby serving as a critical SMART WAS GREENsource of operating revenue for these BEFORE GREEN WAS SMARTgroups. Member companies then sort these Textile recycling, the world’s oldest form ofgoods and grade them based on condition. recycling, is an often overlooked but importantSome of these recovered textiles become contributor to the green movement. Each year,wiping and polishing cloths used in the industry collectively prevents more than 2.5institutional and industrial settings while billion pounds of textile waste from entering theothers are reprocessed into fibers for solid waste stream. Its processes rely largelyfurniture stuffing, upholstery, insulation, on human labor and are far lessbuilding and other materials. The items that energy/water/resource-intensive or pollutingcan be used as apparel are usually exported, than other reclamation or so-calledtypically to least developed and developing “environmentally friendly” industries. In fact, acountries where demand for second hand Lockheed Martin study concluded thatclothing is especially high. recovered textile wiping products have a lower overall environmental impact, contribute less landfill waste, and pose less risk to the environment and human health than their not- so-environmentally friendly alternative, laundered shop towels. WWW. SMARTASN.ORG
SMALL BUSINESSES CONTRIBUTING JOBS AND GROWTHEach year, the domestic textile recycling sector makes a big contribution to the local tax base by generating some $1 billionin gross revenue.2 Meanwhile, in contrast with other manufacturing/reprocessing industries, which are heavily dependentupon mechanized production, this sector uses mainly human labor, thereby creating jobs for some 15,000-20,000 workers.Most of our member firms, in fact, are family-owned businesses which have operated for decades, and many have fewerthan 500 employees. We respect our workers, who others may regard as semi-skilled or marginal, and we offer a saferespectful environment, as well as attractive benefits that include health care, retirement packages and more.NET EXPORTERInternational trade is a critical component of our industry’s success. Year-in and year-out, SMART members export far morethan they import and make a positive impact on the U.S. trade balance and domestic GDP. In 2009, the United Statesexported more than 60 percent of its recovered textile waste, some 1.4 billion pounds ofused clothing (Harmonized Tariff Schedule heading 6309) valued at nearly $375 million and nearly 250 million pounds ofrags and wiping cloths (HTS 6310) valued at some $86 million.MAKING A DIFFERENCECharities like the Salvation Army and Goodwill praise the second hand clothing segment, which provides a critical source ofrevenue by purchasing their unsold donations. These sales generate more than $100 million each year, according toGoodwill, money that provides job training and other career services.3 Meanwhile, international aid organizations likeOxfam laud the industry, which ships the bulk of its second hand clothing to impoverished nations in Asia, Africa, LatinAmerica, and the Caribbean where low-cost, quality used apparel is desperately needed. Meanwhile, Oxfam points out, it“supports the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people in developing countries who work in trading, distribution,repairing, restyling, washing, etc.”4POLICY ISSUESCustoms Border Protection’s (CBP) Interpretation of Used Clothing: Depending on availability of domestic supply,SMART members sometimes import used clothing from Canada for eventual re-export or for other textile recycling.Although these shipments should be allowed to enter the U.S. duty free, a flawed CBP interpretation has resulted in theirbeing charged the same duties applied to new items of clothing (as high as 32 percent), despite the obvious differences inprofit margins, therefore threatening the industry’s future viability. Although the industry has attempted a variety of legallyintact administrative challenges, CBP has repeatedly dug in its heels. SMART is now trying to build support for a legislativeremedy among members of Congress.EPA “Wiper Rule”: EPA has been working for more than two decades to develop hazardous waste regulations governingthe management of solvent-contaminated industrial wiping products, including non-laundered recycled textile rags andlaundered shop towels. If finalized, this rule would reduce unfair regulatory disparities between the two different types ofwipes, more strictly regulate the highly toxic sludge created when shop towels are laundered, increase recycling ofindustrial solvents, and offer greater regulatory certainty for the thousands of manufacturers that are using wipes in theirfacilities. Yet despite these clear benefits, not to mention broad support from SMART and other industry groups, organizedlabor, lawmakers and more, EPA continues to drag its feet, with the agency’s most recent projections placing the final rule’spublication sometime in mid-2012. It has been more than 20 years – it is time that the EPA finish this rulemaking once andfor all.Textile recycling: Astonishingly, the more than 2.5 billion pounds of textiles that the industry is diverting from the wastestream each year is a mere 15 percent of the total that Americans are throwing away each year. Yet, insufficient andfluctuating supply is a constant threat for the industry, and has forced many textile recycling companies to downsize inrecent years. The non-profit Institute for Local Self-Reliance has advocated for municipal textile recycling noting that suchefforts would, “divert additional waste from landfills and incinerators, and enable textile recycling companies to expand theiroperations, sustain more jobs, and clothe more of the world’s peoples.” At a time when cash-strapped local economies andcharitable organizations are leaving no stone unturned in their quest for new funding sources, SMART encourages publicofficials to explore policies that encourage textile recycling, which could lead to a new source of revenue for these non-profits and struggling community agencies.1 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, “Textiles-Common Wastes & Materials”, http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/textiles.htm.2 Institute for Local Self-Reliance, “Weaving Textile Reuse into Waste reduction http://www.ilsr.org/recycling/textilereport.pdf3 May 5, 2006 letter to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Deborah Spero4 “The Impact of Second Hand Clothing Trade on Developing Countries,” Oxfam, 2005.Secondary Materials And Recycled Textiles (SMART) Association2105 Laurel Bush Rd., Ste. 200 Bel Air, MD 21015Tel: 443.640.1050 Fax: 443.640.1086 SMART@ksgroup.org www.smartasn.org