The art of sorting collected textiles

The sorting of textiles is a profession that requires specific knowledge and skills, such as an eye for fashion, knowledge of very different categories of textiles and the quality of garments. Wieland trains its employees on-the-job in the sorting of approximately 300 categories of clothes, shoes and textile materials. Only the most skilled and experienced employees are selected to sort A quality clothes. This is the highest quality level of clothes with which Wieland generates most of its revenues. Naturally, this requires a lot of accuracy. It is not difficult to distinguish a T-shirt from a sweater, but when it comes to A quality garments, specific questions have to be taken into consideration. What kind of T-shirt is it? Is it a fashionable shirt or is the model outdated? Is it a small female size or is it children’s clothing? And is the shirt premium quality or B quality?

At Wieland, all new employees are working closely together with an experienced colleague during four to six weeks. They start with pre-sorting at the conveyor belt in the factory hall where re-usable products (mainly clothes and shoes) are being separated from textile materials that can be re-used as raw materials for new products. Here a first selection is made in the product stack: some shoes are being separated from complete pairs, jeans from trousers, the wet garments from dry garments, damaged sweaters from undamaged sweaters, etcetera. As soon as these employees are fully qualified to manage this process, they can start with the pre-sorting of re-usable clothes. They learn all the details of the profession: sorting the textile categories based on quality, fashion trends, season and specific market demands. What is fashionable in Ukraine can be out-of-date in Poland. A lot of employees are specialized in specific tasks, because the sorting of children’s clothing is something completely different than the sorting of sweaters. In other words: the sorting of second-hand textiles is a real craft!