Hundreds of thousands of tonnes of plastic waste generated from clothing enters landfill every year, prompting the Federal Government to invest $1 million to fund a new textile waste grant round under the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley made the announcement at the first ever National Roundtable on Clothing Textile Waste, which saw industry disruptors, retailers, reuse charities, fibre producers, academics and waste management companies come together to talk about Australia’s throw away fashion culture.
“We want to keep clothing out of landfill, where it can take hundreds of years to break down, releasing harmful carbon emissions along the way, and we do not want to bombard our charities with clothes that are not fit for reuse,” Ley said.
Assistant Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Minister Trevor Evans added that the successful grant applicant will need to bring the industry together to design a strategy that will eliminate textile waste, use less resources and design for reuse at every step of the supply chain.
“Australians discard close to 800,000 tonnes of clothing and textiles each year, a rate of 15 tonnes every 10 minutes,” he said.
“Seed funding through the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund will encourage one of our most creative industries to collaborate, innovate and find solutions to a very untrendy problem.”
The announcement follows the release of a new study which found that charity shops divert over one million tonnes of waste from landfill each year, while generating almost $1 billion annually.
The Charitable Impact Study, commissioned by Charitable Recycling Australia, is supported by over 1000 charity and social enterprise retailers and cross-industry groups wanting to see urgent action on Australia’s textile waste challenge.
“Every year reuse charities across the country save over 300,000 tonnes of clothing from being sent to landfill, but this represents only a portion of the problem,” Charitable Recycling Australia CEO Omer Soker said.
“A remaining 800,000 tonnes of textiles waste still ends up in the tip, which is why we’re calling on the Federal Government to tackle Australia’s textile waste problem and urgently fund a product stewardship scheme for clothing and a cross-industry action plan for sustainable clothing.”
Soker added that through a product stewardship scheme, the Federal Government can encourage consumer to divert wearable clothes from landfill and into the charity sector, where it has maximum environmental, social and economic impact.
“Further, a scheme would create mechanisms, systems and new technologies so we can begin the transition from a take-make-waste model to a circular model, and position Australia as a global leader in clothing solutions,” he said.