A Machine That Sorts Unwearable Clothing Is Helping Tackle Textile Waste
The Salvation Army in the UK uses its Fibersort scanner to save more clothing from the landfill.
The Fibersort uses infrared scanning, machine learning and air jets to classify unwearable clothing into different fiber types for recycling.
Socks with holes, moth-eaten sweaters and ripped T-shirts—these aren’t the kinds of garments one would normally consider donating. Yet the Salvation Army is seeking such unwearables as it aims to save clothing and other textiles from landfill, with the help of a high-tech machine.
The British nonprofit, which operates more than 400 secondhand clothing shops across the UK, is using the Fibersort machine to sift through mounds of items that are unfit for resale at its warehouse in Kettering, about an hour north of London by train. The machine, produced by Belgian manufacturer Valvan, a division of Valtech Group, consists of a box with sides that are each about 1 meter (3.3 feet) long, and has an attached conveyor belt and bins where the sorted clothes end up, based on material, such as cotton, polyester or wool.