The Federal Government is planning to host a national roundtable on textile waste as part of its broader efforts to promote product stewardship.
It is also investing $350,000 in Circular Threads – a new group to be led by the Australasian Circular Textile Association (ACTA) – to help reduce textile waste, particularly unwanted uniforms and workwear.
It is estimated Australians discard 800,000 tonnes of clothing and textiles each year – and ACTA says parents who have just been buying school uniforms, as well as tradesmen getting ready for the year ahead, will contribute 12,000 tonnes of branded uniforms alone to landfill in the next 12 months.
Circular Threads will look at new technologies that can separate and re-purpose polyester and cotton components and create remanufacturing opportunities, and jobs in Australia.
ACTA founder and CEO Camille Reed said: “We need an industry-led approach to find the ways we can break down clothing elements and reuse individual components and actually the fabrics themselves.
“There are some key technologies around the corner in terms of breaking down cotton and polyester blends and we need to be in a position to make the most of those opportunities.”
As part of its own efforts to promote a circular economy, the Commonwealth has implemented new sustainable procurement guidelines that will require federal government departments to consider materials with recycled components and to take into account end-of-life disposal when determining contracts.
The Circular Threads investment is coming from the $20 million National Product Stewardship Investment Fund, which aims to increase the number of industry-led product stewardship schemes or expand existing schemes.