Circular Threads – Weaving a new suit for the textiles industry in Australia

Currently, 150,000t of textiles are weaving its way to NSW landfills every year. Theoretically, all of this is recoverable resource that could be sent for productive reuse in a circular economy.

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Audience members came from across the Australian textiles industry

On November 24th,  Edge Environment brought together the many threads of the textile waste agenda – stakeholders representing corporate workwear, charities, materials scientists, corporations as users, slow fashion aficionados, business people and others – to knit a new way for textiles in the growing circular economy.

At Interface Carpets’ Surry Hills offices, we gathered with a clear objective: “to establish new industry to remove textiles from the waste stream andproduce new materials and products in the ecologically sustainable circular economy”.

Edge curated a range of speakers who outlined their role in the textiles supply chain, framing the discussion and stimulating problem solving.

Sarah Collier (Yum! Group) discussed the generation of waste corporate uniforms by large enterprise and the issues associated with their disposal, while Kerryn Caufield (NACRO) outlined the issue of textile waste for charities and Jane Milburn (Textile Beat) described the challenges of today’s fast-fashion industry.  Lastly, Aiden Mullen (Interface), Karina Seljak (Seljak Brand) and Claudia Echeverria (UNSW) each presented their practical work recovering textiles for reuse and recycling in Australia.

The presentations were followed by lively discussion, reflecting the interest in recovering and recycling textiles in Australia, and highlighting the economic challenges of operating domestic recycling/recovery programs.

Product stewardship emerged as a recurring theme, with participants agreeing with it being something the collective procurement clout of large industry could be powerful in progressing.

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Jane Milburn from Textile Beat, presenting at Circular Threads

With the cost of disposing corporate uniforms totalling tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, corporate uniforms need product stewardship programs, or at the very least a reconsideration of design to enable gifting or reuse at their end of life.

Ideas developed by the speakers and the audience were recorded by the Edge team and will be driven toward an outcome over the coming months. At this early stage, we anticipate that our activity will be drawn towards corporate workwear and establishing more responsible production and consumption of corporate uniforms.

If you were unable to attend or wanted to reach out as a provider/recycling of textiles to get involved in this emerging discussion, don’t hesitate to get in touch with alexis@edgeenvironment.com.au.

ABC Radio National have created a short radio piece from the event that you can listen to here.

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