If you embroider apparel you are very familiar with this problem. After your machine has completed the run, the next step in production is to remove the excess embroidery stabilizer (or pellon, backing, or whatever you call it in your shop). Depending on the version, this could be tear-away, white, black and many varying thicknesses. Most often you will have to cut closely around the item. The remaining material is discarded.
And there’s the problem. We just throw it away. For the past year or so, I have been trying to find an after production use or strategy to recycle this material. At Visual Impressions we run 120 embroidery heads with two complete shifts. We nearly fill a dumpster every two days with this material. We currently recycle every other material in the building: paper, plastic, cardboard, metal, batteries, light bulbs, electronics, etc. Finding a source to pick up and use this has been proven to be the biggest challenge to date.
The stabilizer material is some sort of cotton and polyester composite fiber material. I have discussed this with our vendor and salesperson, and although there is some interest in the discussion, nothing has developed yet. To me, it make perfect sense that this stuff could be shredded and chopped up to be used for stuffing, insulation, filler, or maybe recycled back into its same form again. I have shown it to about a dozen recycling companies now, and nobody has an answer. This seems like a big opportunity for someone to step up.
So, if you are an embroidery shop out there in production-land, what are you doing with your stabilizer material? Is it just going into the dumpster? Are you recycling it somehow? I would love to hear from you. Maybe there is some way we can pool our voices and find a solution to this challenge.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s help each other!