New partnership to focus on textile recycling


Thursday, 18 April, 2024

New partnership to focus on textile recycling

Textile Recyclers Australia (TRA) Pty Ltd has joined forces with the ARC Research Hub for Microrecycling of Battery and Consumer Wastes.

TRA and the Hub, which is hosted and directed by the UNSW Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Centre, will formally partner to help develop and commercialise innovative solutions to waste challenges.

The Hub is a five-year national research and development program aimed at boosting resource recovery capability by creating new advanced and scalable manufacturing technologies, based on SMaRT’s MICROfactorie concept.

“Led by co-founders Ben Kaminsky and Maureen Taylor, TRA looks for circular solutions for unwanted textiles to keep them out of landfill,” said SMaRT Centre Director Professor Veena Sahajwalla.

“With TRA joining the Hub, the program will broaden and continue developing work on technologies and processes to reform hard-to-recycle wastes, like textiles, into new materials and products.”

Australia is the second-highest consumer of textiles per person in the world, after the US, according to Department of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and Water (DCCEEW). DCCEEW’s figures show that each Australian consumes an average of 27 kg of new clothing per year and sends an average 23 kg of clothing to landfill each year, or 93% of the textile waste the nation generates.

While second-hand clothing shops help reduce textile waste to landfill, more action is needed to reduce the amount of clothing waste going to landfill and the impacts of fast fashion. In total, approximately 800,000 tonnes of textiles are sent to Australian landfill each year (and more has been historically sent overseas).

“TRA processes unwanted garments into recycled yarn for ‘new’ apparel, but we know through SMaRT and the work of others that waste textiles are a resource that can be reformed into new things and materials for other products,” Kaminsky said.

The World Economic Forum’s recent report, ‘Net-Zero Challenge: The supply chain opportunity’, states that textiles and fashion supply chains are the third largest polluter globally, generating emissions that surpass those of the shipping and aviation industries combined. Kaminsky said that such a huge problem requires multiple solutions. “[T]he ARC Microrecycling Hub is looking to advance SMaRT’s work in developing new solutions and we are excited to be part of that journey.”

Image credit: iStock.com/Mukhina1

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