Did you know that the average Australian buys 27 kilograms of clothing every year yet throws away (cough…recycles) 24 kilograms of apparel a year?
Approximately 65 per cent of the clothing we ‘recycle’ usually gets sent offshore to a developing country where it is sent to landfill.
And somewhere between California and Hawaii there is an island of plastic and floating rubbish known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – comprised of 1.8 trillion items of rubbish that is twice the size of Texas and three times the size of France.
Well you may not know it – but your customers sure do. Particularly millennials. And it is very important to them.
Unsurprisingly, caring for the environment has never been a hotter issue both for society and businesses.
And right in the middle of the battleground is retail, which is a huge contributor to the environmental problems we face around the world.
In response to a global environmental disaster, the circular economy movement is gaining momentum as brands recognise that a sustainable environmental footprint is the new ticket to play in retail.
The circular economy gives new life to products and materials that would otherwise make their way to landfill, letting products have an infinite lifecycle through different uses.
Globally, governments and industries are developing initiatives to promote the circular economy, which they claim can potentially deliver economic benefits of $1 trillion globally by 2025.
In Australia, state and federal government initiatives have been announced, with $167 million being invested federally to contribute to the circular economy and recycling.
This is in part for funding a Circular Economy Hub developed through Planet Ark, planned to launch in 2020 where a marketplace will connect buyers with sellers in the circular economy.
The current state in the textile industry
While the majority of Australians believe they already contribute to a sustainable circular economy in textiles – via charitable donations, which is primarily recycled clothing – the reality is much different.
While charities have given a second or third life to over 285 million items of clothing and hard goods, there is still an estimated 62 million kilograms of textile waste exported by charities yearly. And these charities are spending around $13 million in landfill costs per year.
Globally, 85 per cent of textiles are sent to landfill, equating to around one garbage truck load of textiles being sent to landfill or burned every second.