Inside of Phoenix Fibers, workers sort through piles of clothing. Many of the items in their Chandler, AZ warehouse were returned to retailers from across the country. “Usually, the first quarter after Christmas we’ll start seeing an uptick in the online returns,” said Plant Manager Steve Johnson.

According to the National Retail Federation, about 13% of merchandise sold during the holiday season will be returned this year. Supply chain experts say retailers often don’t want to pay to have those products cleaned or fixed so they go to a third party. About five billion pounds of those products end up in a landfill every year, according to the company Optoro.

Johnson says since opening in 2012, they’ve recycled two million pounds of clothing every month. The clothing is transformed into just about anything from insulation used inside of bathtubs, food boxes, and even punching bags. “The poly-cotton mix will typically be going into the sporting goods industry,” Johnson said.

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Author: Jamie Warren, ABC 15 Arizona
Image: ABC 15 Arizona