Clothing, shoes, fabric, sheets, towels and other textiles should never be put in your household recycling bin. Fortunately, there are lots of other ways to reuse or recycle your old clothing and textiles.
To help charity shops keep their costs down, follow the golden rule for donations: if you would gift it to a friend or family member, then it’s in good enough condition to donate.
Scroll down to find other reuse and recycling services.
WORN / DAMAGED / UNSALEABLE CLOTHING
Some organisations accept worn, damaged and unsaleable clothing (even underwear!) which are recycled into industrial rags or other textile by-products.
UPPAREL (formerly Manrags) has a home collection service that accepts clothing (in any condition), shoes, linen, and other textiles for a fee. All items are reused, repurposed, or recycled in Australia.
After offers a home collection service (Sydney and Melbourne) for used and unwearable clothing for a fee. The clothing is sent to its textile recycling partners for recycling into new materials and products.
Clothing retailer H&M has a free recycling program in select stores for all kinds of clothing and textiles in any condition.
Zara has a free textile collection program in select stores for all kinds of clothing and textiles in any condition (including shoes, linen, and accessories).
UNIQLO has a free recycling program for its own branded clothing in any condition. Collection bins are located in stores.
Patagonia has a trade-in program for its own pre-loved clothing where customers can return their worn-out or damaged clothing for store credit. Any clothes that can be repaired are mended and sold in Patagonia's secondhand shop.
Underwear for Humanity has a recycling program for its customers for underwear and bras. They will recycle other brands if you purchase their underwear first.
Shoes should never be put in your household recycling bin. If they are in good condition they can be donated to charity shops.
If they are damaged and worn out, Upparel (formerly Manrags) has a home collection recycling service that accepts shoes in any condition (as well as other textiles) for a fee.
Zara also has a recycling program that accepts shoes (and other textiles) in any condition.
Shoes for Planet Earth is a not-for-profit organisation that works with local and international communities and companies to provide reused running shoes to those in need around the world. They have drop-off locations in NSW, Victoria, and Queensland. As well as running shoes, they also accept insoles and spare laces. Shoes with broken soles or holes are not accepted.
TreadLightly is a national recycling initiative that recycles unwanted sport and active lifestyle footwear. Recycling drop-off points are located at various shoe shops. Visit TreadLightly to find a location near you.
If these programs are not suitable for you, unfortunately, the shoes should be put in your rubbish bin.
QUILT COVERS, SHEETS AND TOWELS
Old towels and sheets are often needed by animal shelters and vets. Contact your local shelter or vet to see if they will accept them.
Some mechanics may accept old towels, clothing, sheets and other textiles so they can use them as rags. Contact your local mechanic to see if they will accept them.
Retailer Sheridan accepts any brand of pre-loved quilt covers, sheets and towels for recycling. Collection bins can be found at Sheridan Boutique, Studio, or Outlet stores.
If you are unable to find a reuse or recycling option for your items, unfortunately, they should be put in your garbage bin.
PILLOWS AND DOONAS
Animal shelters and vets can't accept old pillows and doonas for health and safety reasons. These items should not be put in your household recycling bin, so they must be put in your rubbish bin.
Some charity shops may accept doonas and duvets - always call in advance to check before dropping them off.
GoKindly offers a recycling program for its customers (other brands are not accepted). A postage fee is charged for recycling old pillows. The fabric from the pillow is recycled into yarn.
Old work uniforms
Australian businesses have a responsibility to take ownership of the textile waste that is produced as a result of corporate uniforms and workwear. We encourage all businesses – large and small – to put in place a uniform recycling program. Businesses can contact Total Uniform Solutions for more information.
Loop Upcycling offers upcycling & recycling services & solutions for corporate workwear, supporting companies in reducing their waste and adopting more sustainable and circular waste management practices, in partnership with local, community organisations, providing training and employment to people experiencing disadvantage (mainly refugees, new migrants and victims of domestic abuse).
The Uniform Exchange has provided a second life for thousands of school uniforms. The website provides the community with a free platform to sell, buy or donate second-hand school uniforms for every school in Australia.
Schools with large quantities of uniforms can contact sustainable start-up Worn Up which offers to collect this textile waste and transform it into new products such as desks that can be used again by students.
Many charities sell second-hand goods and clothing via shops. They're great places to pick up a bargain and help a great cause at the same time!
However, please donate wisely. Charities are paying $13 million a year to send unusable donations to landfill which represents 60,000 tonnes of waste. If you’re unsure whether your clothing is in good enough condition to donate, follow the golden rule for donations: if you would gift it to a friend or family member, then it’s in good enough condition to donate to a charity shop.
Many charity stores will also accept unwanted household items that are in good condition such as appliances, glassware, crockery, accessories, ornaments, jewellery, books, CDs and DVDs, records, and furniture.
Before setting out to donate unwanted items to a charity shop, however, please contact them first to ensure they can accept your unwanted items.
OTHER CLOTHING DONATION PROGRAMS
Dress For Success and Fitted for Work are both programs in Australia that help women experiencing disadvantage to find work and keep it. They do this by providing free programs, professional attire, and career mentoring and development. Visit their websites to find out what type of clothing is suitable to donate or other ways that you can help.
Clothing Cleanup offers a pick-up service in Sydney for wearable clothing, shoes, handbags, accessories (including hats, belts, scarves) and manchester.
If your workplace or business has large quantities of clothing, textiles and other second-hand goods to recycle, visit Business Recycling to find suitable collection or drop-off services.
NATIONAL CLOTHING RECYCLING SCHEME
A national recycling scheme for clothing is currently in development in Australia. The new scheme, which is called Seamless, was launched in 2023, however, it is still in the development phase. Check this page for updates or visit Seamless for more information.
Charitable Recycling Australia is the national network of charitable purpose-driven reuse and recycling enterprises. It represents the collective interests of charity and social enterprise retailers through advocacy, capacity-building and education.
For more information about clothing donations, visit the below websites: