Goodwill Industries International (GII) and its affiliated organisations from the US, Canada and Finland gathered in Rochester, N.Y., for a two-day summit focused on textile circularity.

Accelerating Circularity, Tomra and Sortile from the textile recycling sector and researchers from the Rochester Institute of Technology also attended the event.

Demonstrations at the summit included advanced techniques in textile sorting and grading, garment deconstruction, circularity landscape modelling, and the latest recycling machinery and equipment.

Highlighting the progress within the Goodwill network, various local organisations shared the results of innovative recycling pilots. These included updates from a textile recycling pilot programme funded by the Walmart Foundation, which aims to transform unwearable donations into raw materials for textile recycling.

This two-year initiative involves establishing regional sortation hubs to collect, sort, and prepare textiles for reuse and recycling, in collaboration with Accelerating Circularity.

“This recent summit underscores Goodwill’s continued commitment to advancing textile circularity by ensuring that we get the highest value out of every item entrusted to us for our planet, our communities, and our people,” said Steve President, GII president and CEO. “With the support of Walmart Foundation and partners from other sectors of the textile circularity ecosystem, we are developing a number of pathways for goods to minimise waste and maximise value through reuse, remanufacturing and recycling.”

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Jennifer Lake, president and CEO of Goodwill of the Finger Lakes, emphasised Goodwill’s longstanding leadership in reuse. She said: “As emerging recycling technology scales in the US, Goodwill is uniquely positioned to ensure unwearable cotton and polyester textiles are recycled into new materials fueling that circular textile economy.”

Revenue from the sale of donated goods supports vital community services, including job training and placement for individuals facing employment barriers. Goodwill’s initiatives promise that the value of donated items stays within local communities, funding essential programmes and services.

In August, Goodwill plans to host its inaugural Sustainability Summit in Washington, DC, featuring industry leaders and promoting further collaboration and action on sustainability issues.