UGA Produces Solid Waste Resource for Georgia Businesses

Solid waste disposal is a serious economic issue for textile and carpet manufacturers, as well as for many other industries. Increases in disposal costs and the likelihood of more regulations in the future are reasons to consider alternative methods of dealing with your solid wastes. In Georgia, apparel and textile manufacturers alone generate more than 5.6 billion pounds/year of fibrous and other solid industrial waste, 62% of which is landfilled or disposed of in other nonprofitable ways. The yearly cost to dispose of these wastes is more than 3 million dollars, and much of this waste could have been recycled or reused. By all accounts, solid waste disposal is an environmental issue that negatively affects many manufacturers and their home communities.

Prior research conducted by the University of Georgia’s Textiles, Merchandising, and Interiors (TMI) Department indicated that recycling and reuse of industrial waste is frequently not done because access to secondary waste handlers is limited, industry personnel are unaware of recycling options, or many waste recyclers are not aware of the types and amounts of solid wastes being generated in their collection area. Recognizing the need to assist the textile sector with its solid waste concerns, TMI and the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering (BAE) have developed Georgia’s Textile, Apparel & Carpet Solid Waste Resource. The resource consists of a two-part electronic database which 1) provides manufacturers with the name, location, and requirements of reclaimable materials handlers in the Southeastern U.S. and 2) provides information on locations and amounts of textile solid waste being generated in Georgia. This resource also contains information of interest to many solid-waste generating industries, although the focus of the project is on textile and apparel manufacturers. The overall goal of the project is to decrease the amount of fibrous and solid industrial waste sent to landfills, increase recycling of secondary textile materials, conserve landfill space, and improve the environmental stewardship of Georgia textile companies.

Internet – Information from the database has been developed into an Internet website (, and individuals who do not have access to the Internet are encouraged to contact TMI directly for assistance with the database (see contact information at end of this article). Currently, the database includes information on 124 waste handlers. The database can be searched by waste type (such as cardboard tubes or HDPE plastic) or by geographic region. Each handler provides contact information, pickup regions, minimum amount desired, and any other special requirements. As mentioned above, many waste types listed may be of interest to non-textile industries. See the accompanying table for a listing of some of the miscellaneous categories on the website.

Examples of Miscellaneous Industrial Waste Listings on Website

cardboard boxes

plastic strapping

drums, metal and plastic

stretch film

pallets, plastic and wooden

HDPE/#2 plastic

PETE/#1 plastic


computer paper

This portion of the database will be updated continuously by making changes in the website as new information is received.

On the generator side, the database includes survey data from Georgia textile companies in graphic form for the top ten waste types by region and by method of disposal. Spreadsheets of regional totals for 55 different waste categories can be downloaded by method of disposal. This data is displayed in the aggregate, and data from individual companies is kept confidential. See the box on the next page for an example of survey data for cardboard box generation.

Support for this project is provided by a number of partners. Timothy Anderson of BAE was instrumental in development of the website. The Consortium for the Competitiveness of the Apparel, Carpet and Textile Industries (CCACTI) provided base funding for the project. Other partners include Georgia Power – A Southern Company, Georgia Tech Economic Development Institute, Georgia Pollution Prevention Assistance Division, the Georgia Textile Manufacturers Association, the Carpet and Rug Institute, and the American Apparel Manufacturers Association.

Results – Results of the project so far have been impressive. Over 400 textile manufacturers and over 700 reclaimable materials handlers have been contacted for information in the last two years. More than 135 Georgia manufacturers have received personal assistance in locating alternate handling methods for their solid wastes. An average of 500 hits per month have been recorded on the website. A new feature of the website allows generators to advertise specific waste streams they want to dispose of, and so far 9 plants are participating in this service. TMI and BAE personnel have developed a promotional brochure, business cards, and a poster describing the database. They have also made many presentations about the database, sent out press releases, and requested links from 13 other websites back to their own.

P2AD Project – This database is also part of a large statewide effort in Georgia to identify value-added materials and market needs relating to material recycling and reuse. As discussed in previous issues of From the Source, P2AD is gathering supply/demand information and identifying recycling and reuse markets for several solid waste streams, including textile. Information from the UGA database will be incorporated into this more extensive waste stream characterization being funded by P2AD.

Contact Information – For more information about the Solid Waste Resource, contact Dr. Patricia Annis of TMI at (706) 987-4889, OR Mary Sue Brewer at (706) 524-3758. Requests can also be faxed to (706) 542-4890. For more information about CCACTI, call Susan Shows at (404) 145-6113.

Portions of the above article were written by Dr. Patricia Annis and Mary Sue Brewer. Their assistance is gratefully acknowledged.