The public often expects a recycled product to be less expensive, as it is made from post-consumer materials
Rolf Dahl discusses the global textile recycling industry and its facts and misconceptions with Fibre2Fashion correspondent Ilin Mathew.
Miller Waste Mills, headquartered in Winona, Minnesota USA, is a manufacturer of recycled products made from quality natural and synthetic fibers. Established in 1923, Miller Waste Mills began as a manufacturer of processed fibers used in the lubrication process for railroad wheels, prior to the advent of ball bearings. Today, it has evolved to provide recycling solutions to a number of industries, including textiles.
Rolf Dahl serves as a director in Miller Waste Mills, and has a considerable role to play in the success of the company.
Miller Waste Mills has an experience of more than 90 years in the textile waste processing industry. What inspired you to venture into this industry and what have been some of the highlights over the years in terms of progress and impact?
At Miller Waste Mills, we have always viewed efficiency and waste reduction as smart business. In 1923, Miller Waste Mills was established with the goal of providing processed fabric to the railroad industry. The processed fabric, called "waste", was dipped in oil and placed in a journal box over the axle, which then dripped oil down onto the axle. This was how railroad wheels were lubricated prior to the advent of ball bearings. Miller Waste Mills grew rapidly, as railroads themselves were growing rapidly and the demand for waste was high during this time period.
Later, our material started to be used in oil filters for heavy equipment and other engines. The textile industry is always changing with new fabrics and technologies, so we make a point of keeping up with what's new in the post-consumer waste streams. A more recent development is the utilization of the fibers as noise insulation in automobiles, and as insulation in homes and business to reduce heating and air conditioning costs.
The company has recently received ISO 9001:2008 certification. What is it about the industry that you think has resonated strongly with the consumers?
Miller Waste Mills is a leader in fiber conversion, and one of the few recycling mills in the industry with ISO 9001:2008 certification. With our long term commitment to the industry, it made sense for us to take this step toward the industry standard. Achieving ISO 9001:2008 certification clearly demonstrates our commitment to providing consistent, high quality products and services that manufacturers can rely on. And it is really exciting to assist customers in developing products that have a more positive impact on the environment! Consumer interest in recycling and reusing is growing, and we are proud to be part of the solution.
Although environmentalists began educational efforts on recycling with the first 'Earth Day' on April 22, 1970, recycling is still a new practice in textile industry. How are you managing this crisis?
As a society, we have come a long way in recycling aluminum, glass, and plastics. Unfortunately, when it comes to textile recycling, most consumers believe that if they take their good worn clothing to a donation site, they are recycling their textiles.
As important as it is to donate textiles, it is obviously not enough, as far too many textiles are still reaching our landfills. Consumers need to be educated on textile recycling. All textiles, including clothing, shoes, stuffed toys, and belts can be recycled, even if they are stained, torn, or just unwearable. Mold is the only thing that would prevent a textile from being recyclable.
There are great web sites dedicated to educating consumers on all aspects of recycling, including textile recycling.
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