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Recycling Clothes The Right Way

Last update: 17/04/2019
Life Line Clothing Malaysia (LLCM) factory in Bandar Sultan Suleiman at Port Klang, Selangor. --fotoBERNAMA(2019) COPYRIGHTS RESERVED
By Soon Li Wei

KLANG (Bernama) -- What do we do with our old clothes? We know that if they are still in good condition, we can sell them on the cheap or donate them to the needy.

But what if they are damaged beyond repair? Tossing them into the garbage bin will cause them to ultimately end up in landfills. As the fabrics disintegrate, the thousands of chemicals used in clothe manufacturing releases toxic substances into the environment.

Fortunately, there is another way to give a second lease on life to these old clothes while protecting the environment.

A company called Life Line Clothing Malaysia (LLCM) Sdn Bhd, established in 2013, collects old clothing articles and textiles to repurpose or recycle them.

LLCM Sales Executive Zaki Suratman told Bernama that the company has been collecting and recycling old clothes since its establishment in 2013.

The company also collects and supplies excess or used textiles from Malaysia and overseas.

“Some textile recycling companies only collects and sells what they get and destroys what is left. However, at LLCM, we take it to the next level by converting all the recyclables into something of value that can be commercialised and reused. This is because we have a "no waste" policy and want to minimise the number of items to be destroyed for the sake of environmental sustainability," he explained.



LACK OF AWARENESS

LLCM collects and processes 50 to 60 tonnes of clothes every week, all of which are donated by the public through its recycling bins.

"During peak seasons - which is near festive seasons - we get around 70 tonnes of old clothes because people would be busy spring cleaning during that time," said Zaki.

LLCM has placed 948 units of recycling bins across the Klang Valley, Bentong (Pahang) Teluk Intan and Tanjung Malim (Perak) and Muar, Johor.

“We have now expanded our areas of coverage by placing LLCM recycling bins at schools and university campuses, with the help of NGOs," he added.

The NGOs involved are the National Cancer Council (MAKNA), the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) and the Recycle Community Malaysia Lestari (RCOMM), all of which helped in providing the logistics and infrastructure needed for the recycling old clothes.

Zaki said that awareness of the usage of LLCM bins were still low as there were those who still treated it as disposal bins for food waste and other sorts of rubbish.

LLCM routinely found spoiled electrical goods and garbage in the recycling bins soiling the clothes meant for recycling.



NOT AN EASY TASK

Some would also deface the bins and break off its wheels, causing the bins to fall apart and its contents to spill out. At other times, contents would spill out because the bins were too full.

"Despite that, we would still collect the donated items and separate them by categories because we practice zero waste management," he said.

The donated items would then be ferried to a factory at Port Klang.

“When the parcels of collected items arrive at the factory, we would separate them into two piles: clothes and others. The 'clothes' are not just shirts and pants but also other items like hats, shoes, handbags and belts," Zaki explained.

The other pile of items typically consist of electrical appliances, furniture and stationery, which would be separated again into two piles - broken or not.

LLCM would try to salvage and repair the broken items before selling them to customers at their bundle store.

As there are about 300 categories of clothing, a large number of staff is needed. LLCM has 320 general staff while another 30 are in management.



ENVIRONMENTAL CONSERVATION

Clothes and textile that are still in good condition are separated into fabric types before being packed and labelled as 'clean fabrics'.

"We usually pack them into 10kg and 25kg bundles before selling them to the used clothes industry or donating them to the needy.

"Many NGOs buy these used clothes and distribute them to the needy. There are also demand for it from African countries and India, among others," Zaki added.

Fabrics that cannot be reused like spandex, polyester, lycra and materials with zips and plastics are sent to other recycling factories to be burned.

Absorbent clothes and turned into cleaning cloths and supplied to factories that need them.

"Every industry needs cleaning cloths and we value every piece of fabric donated because we believe that it can be repurposed into something useful for someone else. We try to ensure that no fabric ends up at landfills as our goal is environmental protection and conservation.

"Damaged clothes, for example, would be cut into pieces to be turned into cleaning cloths. It would then be separated by colour for export as sometimes there is demand for just white-coloured cloths," he said.

He added that there was a high demand for cleaning cloths from car wash factories in Australia.



BUNDLE SHOP

Zaki said the used clothes and items were given a second life at an LLCM bundle store and warehouse sales held twice a year.

The bundle store is located next to the LLCM factory in Bandar Sultan Suleiman at Port Klang and is open from 10am to 8pm every day.

Zaki advises those wishing to donate into LLCM bins to separate their donations into categories such as work clothes, clothes for functions or damaged clothings.



Translated by Sakina Mohamed

BERNAMA








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