TOWARDS CIRCULAR ECONOMY
WHAT IS A CIRCULAR ECONOMY?
A circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible. This aims at tackling global challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, waste, and pollution.
THE IMPACT OF THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY
The textile industry is the second largest polluter in the world, after the oil industry. The environmental damage is only increasing as the industry grows.
In 2018-19 an estimated 780kt (kilotons) of textile waste was generated. In other terms, this is 31 kg per person per year (Australian National Waste Report, 2020). The current recycling rate for textiles in Australia is estimated at only 7%, most of which is exports.
The interior design and commercial textile industry make up a significant portion of textile waste. The recycling rate is even lower as the fabric used is not a finished product and often overlooked as a recyclable resource.
Our goal is to keep as much of our textiles out of landfill as we can and help close the loop towards a truly circular economy.
We are honest about the fact that in Australia, large scale textile recycling options are only just beginning to emerge, there are many new innovative developments and we are excited for what options the future brings.
OUR RECYCLING JOURNEY
After 50 years in the commercial textile industry, we are only now seeing the beginnings of funding and infrastructure planning for the immense amount of waste that the Australian textile industry produces.
Across a variety of industries we are now seeing more and more circular or
cradle to cradle certifications. However it is important to ask, what does this actually look like, and how can you trust that the product you buy won’t end up in landfill?
The challenge for us is that our fabric is not a finished product. Meaning it goes on to be upholstered and attached to frames and other materials. In the past our recycling policy encouraged our clients to return unsoiled fabric offcuts to be reused as sampling, however fabrics which have been upholstered using glues or are damaged have had less options for recycling.
The responsibility of disposing of used fabrics environmentally is up to our customers. It is no secret that discarded fabrics often go to landfill, therefore our overarching goal is to drive a change of behaviour within the industry.
For us at this stage, the best solution is to provide our clients with legitimate options to dispose of our fabric through the emerging recycling channels now becoming available. By providing our customers with information, we hope it will spark the initiative to close the loop.
Australia has a long journey ahead towards embracing a circular economy. Our team is dedicated to continuously researching and building partnerships with textile recycling organisations to close the loop of our fabrics.
OUR RECYCLING OPTIONS
WHERE CAN YOU RECYCLE OUR FABRICS?
Circularity is a partnership with our customers and our supply chain. To be completely transparent, the landscape of textile recycling is far from a perfect system. We are excited to promote Upparel as a source for our clients to recycle their offcut fabric from production as well as end of life fabric from dismantled furniture.
Upparel is an incredible organisation born out of Melbourne who is stepping up and leading the change for future generations in the textile recycling and upcycling industry. They’re upcycling textiles into quality, useful products and supporting organisations and charities on their journey to sustainability and circularity.
HOW CAN THEY BE RECYCLED?
Incredibly, all Upparel’s recycling is done right here in Australia. For years Australia has been shipping our textile waste off shore, increasing the carbon footprint of the fabric and putting extra pressure on third world countries to process our waste.
Depending on the fabric and its condition, the fabrics will be recycled differently. Untarnished fabrics can be blended with virgin fibres to produce yarns ideal for manufacturing new fabrics. Any fabric not fit for re-spinning including fabric attached to other elements such as glue will be shredded for use in upcycled products such roof tiles, insulation, office partitions and stuffing for pet beds.
They are available for both small scale recycling from as little as 10kg to commercial scale recycling upwards of 100kg. More details can be found on our website here.