In November 2021, $1 million was awarded to the Australian Fashion Council through the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund (NPSIF). The scheme will bring together fashion designers, manufacturers, retailers, charities and the recycling sector to help tackle the mountains of clothing and textile waste reaching landfill in Australia. Read more about Fashion's latest collab to drive environmental innovation.
Roundtable and Exhibition
Minister Ley hosted Australia’s first Commonwealth led Industry Clothing Textiles Waste Roundtable and Exhibition at Australian Parliament House on 26 May 2021.
At this one-day meeting industry leaders discussed the ways business and government can work together to realise and deliver innovate solutions to combat the increasing amount of clothing waste being sent to landfill.
Annually Australian’s acquire an average of 27 kilograms of new clothing per person, and discard around 23 kilograms of clothing to landfill each year.
Second-hand clothing shops help reduce textiles waste to landfill. Australia has 3,000 charity and social enterprise retailers that support 5,000 jobs, 33,000 volunteers, and 10,000 charity collection bins.
But more is needed to reduce clothing waste to landfill and the impacts of fast fashion.
The Roundtable initiated conversation to:
- Drive national leadership and coordinated action to improve product stewardship of clothing textile waste, and
- Establish a commitment for coordinated action on clothing textiles waste that supports the National Waste Policy Action Plan.
Preceding the Roundtable MPs, Senators and roundtable participants attended a clothing textile waste to resources exhibition showcasing the people and products at the forefront of the textiles circular economy.
A range of innovative products were displayed revealing the latest developments in clothing textile waste recycling and highlighting both the challenges and opportunities of addressing textile waste here in Australia.
Videos: Meet our exhibitors
I’m Adrian Jones, one of the co-founders of BlockTexx. We are a resource recovery industry based in Queensland. What we essentially do, is take what people perceive to be textile waste and we convert that into raw materials that are then used in industry. So we take polyester sheets and we covert those into polyester chips and cellulosic powder and we sell those raw materials on to industry, so saving textiles from landfill. We’ve met with Minister Ley and Assistant Minster Evans and we really appreciate the support that they’ve given to BlockTexx so far. I would encourage all Australians to buy a little less and demand a little more, and really think about what they do with their textiles at the end of life.
Hi, I’m Anne Thompson from Worn Up, and we’re super excited to be here today at Australian Parliament House to show what can be done with waste textiles. We take back every uniform we make and collect uniforms from others, and we can turn them into tiles, dog beds and many useful materials that be used and have a second and third life. When you think about it, there are four million school children, and every school child wears a uniform, so you are looking at about nine hundred thousand tonnes of uniforms we could keep out of landfill. We’ve taken back about twenty-two tonnes in just three months, of offcuts from school uniforms. What we’d really love to see is every school in Australia enrolling in Worn Up so that we can take even more back and keep it out of landfill and put it into useful products that we can use commercially.
Hi, my name is Anthony, I’m the Thread Together CEO and I’m thrilled to be at this Product Stewardship around textile waste. Thread Together is Australia’s highest ethical response to fashion excess. What that means is, about one third of all brand-new clothing goes from factory to landfill. Our mission and purpose is to save that clothing and to redistribute that to vulnerable people all around the country. Today we’re clothing around two thousand people, nationally, the way in which we do that is through a network of social service agencies and registered charities who connect us to those people. We’re working with survivors of domestic violence so they can arrive at a women’s refuge and access clothing immediately. It’s brand-new clothing, it’s giving them the opportunity to choose their wardrobe. We are also working extensively with those people that are vulnerable or at risk, they may be homeless, they may have lost their home through a recent bushfire, or recent flooding, they may have been subject to difficult circumstances during the pandemic. Where there is a need, we are working with individuals to provide that clothing to them.
I’m Brooke Summers and I work with Cotton Australia. What I learned today was that we’ve got a lot of work to do and that collaboration is going to be a really critical part of how we move forward on this issue. We know that blends for example, are a real problem in terms of recyclability, so when consumers can choose 100% cotton, or 100% polyester, or 100% something, they know that that can actually then be dealt with at end of life. We need to be a part of this conversation, we need to be part of the solutions, and we think that cotton as a natural fibre that biodegrades, is recyclable and renewable, has a really important place in the circular economy of the future.
Hi, my name is Camille Reed, and I’m the founder of the Australasian Circular Textile Association, better known as ACTA. My experience today at the National Textiles Round Table here in Canberra at Parliament House was a colourful one. We had a number of interested parties here from the textiles and clothing industry, talk about the future of circularity and sustainability for textiles. So as an industry body we were able to learn and observe, particularly some of those fundamental key changes that need to transition the industry from linear to circular. And through that we were able to hear a diverse range of views and insights. So the next steps for a more sustainable clothing and textile industry, would encompass the collaboration of many of the participants here today, ensuring that the peak bodies are working together in collaboration as I said, with key stakeholders and participants, and with government. It’s about devising some of those strategies and targets that are highly aspirational to ensure we that we are removing textiles from landfill and also treating them with the highest possible value. So we’re maintaining the integrity of textiles and ensuring that there is a recoverable pathway there, which gives everybody an opportunity to get involved.
Hi, my name is Faye de Lantey and I am the Eco-Stylist for Salvo’s Stores. I am extremely passionate about textile waste. We’re coming together as a charity sector because there is so much that we can do with what’s already in existence. We really want to inspire, educate, and bring awareness to the collective, to think consciously about we’re doing with our clothes. We really can upcycle, reinvent, we can reimagine, repurpose, restyle. There is a world of possibility, and if we come together, we really can move the needle.
Hi, I’m Veena Sahajwalla and I’m a professor at the University of New South Wales SMaRT Centre. At the SMaRT Centre we are all about developing new science, new technologies to recycle waste and convert them into value added products. Our whole new science of micro-recycling is all about taking waste materials like glass and textile and a whole range of other materials at a micro level, bringing it together and collectively that hybrid transforms itself into a whole new ceramic and in this case, it’s a green ceramic, fit for purpose.
Please read the Clothing Textiles Waste Roundtable Communique informed by participants.
NATIONAL CLOTHING TEXTILE WASTE ROUNDTABLE
Agreed Communique – 26 May 2021
Industry and a number of other key stakeholders came together on 26 May 2021 for Australia’s first National Clothing Textile Waste roundtable, hosted by the Australian Government at Parliament House in Canberra.
Participants from across retail, fashion, charity, production, environment, research and waste management discussed the key challenges as well as the opportunities to reduce the approximately 800,000 tonnes of textiles waste Australia generates and sends to landfill each year.
The roundtable signals the start of a collaborative effort, drawing on a diversity of expertise across Australia to create action to reduce waste from clothing textiles going to landfill.
Australia is the second highest consumer of textiles per person in the world, after the United States of America. Each Australian consumes an average of 27 kilograms of new clothing per year and disposes an average 23 kilograms of clothing to landfill each year, or 93 per cent of the textile waste we generate.
Participants agreed that a circular economy for textiles is critical to achieving a sustainable textile industry in Australia. Textile circularity provides a significant opportunity to drive innovation, better design, create new Australian jobs and recover valuable resources from items currently going to landfill.
They noted and welcomed Minister Ley’s announcement of her intention to include clothing textiles to the Minister’s product stewardship priority list and a commitment of up to $1 million in funding to support product stewardship efforts on clothing textiles waste.
There was broad agreement to a hold a National Summit later this year to develop a set of product stewardship goals for a circular economy for clothing textiles. The summit will focus on collaboration and action by industry and governments, that could also inform action on textiles in a broader range of products.
An industry working group will be established to set the agenda, identify invitees and to develop proposals for discussion and endorsement at the summit. Ongoing discussions will involve contributors across the whole life cycle of clothing textiles.
Signatories to the communique (in attendance at the roundtable):
- Australasian Circular Textile Association
- Australian Council of Recyclers
- Australian Retailers Associatio
- Australian Fashion Counci
- Charitable Recycling Australia
- Circular Centre
- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
- Cotton Australia
- David Jones & Country Road Group
- Institute of Sustainable Futures
- King Cotton
- Kmart Group
- Monash Sustainable Development Institute
- Planet Ark
- Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence
- Queensland University of Technology
- Raw Assembly
- Salvation Army
- Southern Cross Recycling (SCR) Group
- The Iconic
- Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association of NSW
- Waverley Mills
- World’s Biggest Garage Sale