Green America: Growing the Green Economy for People and the Planet

American Textile & Supply
Contra Costa, CA

American Textile & Supply, Inc. reclaims and converts 100% post-consumer textile waste into wiping cloths (rags), reducing the environmental impact on landfills, energy use and water use! 

We source this post consumer textile waste from charities, hospitals, hotels, commercial laundries and other recyclers. We collect used clothing, linens, sheets, towels and many other materials. However, a majority is not sellable as is and would go to the landfill if we did not make wiping cloths! We are dealing in the true dredges of textiles and helping to promote zero waste.

The E.P.A. states that 85% of textiles that could be recycled are not and that 5% of our landfills are made up of textile waste!
There are many different kinds of materials we process. Clothing, towels, linens and other materials are cut up and unwanted items (such as buttons, zippers, pockets) are removed. The result is a rag, graded by material quality and color, ready to be packaged and sold as a wiping cloth.

Two studies have been done, one by the US Environmental Protection Agency* and one by SMART** (Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles association). The net results show a significant difference in the environmental impact of the three wiping products that businesses and consumers have the options to use.

Both studies investigated the environmental impact in 3 areas: water use, energy use, and waste generated.

  • Reclaimed wiping rags have the least overall impact on the environment of all three wiping cloths. They use less energy and less water than the other two categories, and generate significantly less waste than laundered (rental) wiping rags.
  • Non-woven/paper wiping materials generate the least waste of the three categories, but have the highest energy usage of the other two categories and the 2nd highest water usage, using only slightly less than the rental wiping rags.
  • Rental wiping rags have the greatest impact on the environment, in large part due to the large amount of ‘sludge’ containing hazardous chemicals and other compounds that are discarded with the wash water. They also have the highest water usage of the three categories.

The market has choices: a paper-based wiping product (90% of the market for industrial paper wipers is virgin fiber) and uses tons of water and energy; a shop towel made from virgin cotton, which also uses lots of energy and water; or a reclaimed textile wiping cloth that requires virtually no energy or water use.  An original green industry: wiping rags!

Our wiping cloths have a wide array of characteristics, such as: absorbency; durability; softness; lint-free; colorfastness.  They are ideal for most all wiping applications.

American Textile & Supply, Inc. is a certified small business in the state of California and is a green business in Contra Costa County, certified by the Bay Area Green Business Program. Besides recycling PCW textiles into wiping cloths, we deal in related product lines to help support environmental solutions.

We have reduced packaging waste by investing in custom equipment that reduces use of cartons, pallets, storage space and transportation which not only reduces landfill waste, but also our carbon footprint. 

We recently received a loan from Cal-Recycle to support equipment needs. Included in this investment, which we are very excited about, is the installation of solar power to further reduce our carbon footprint.

Winning this award would help us promote our company, the use of wiping cloths and the green movement in general.  We would create a public relations campaign and reference this award on our website, monthly email blasts and on our literature.

Thank you for this opportunity!

Flyer Life of rag

*EPA Report EPA/600/R-96/150, Feb 1997, Environmental Assessment of Shop Towel usage in the Automotive and Printing Industries, Lockheed-Martin for the National Risk Management Laboratory

**Environmental Life Cycle Analysis of Disposable Wipers and Laundered Shop Towels, Sept 7, 1999