CEBIC year 2 focus area – Textiles

Last updated: 5 September 2021

For the 2021-22 period CEBIC’s annual focus area is textiles.

Our annual focus areas allow us to direct resources to where they will have the greatest impact on waste reduction and materials efficiency.

We will change the focus area each financial year in response to emerging priorities.

How we are supporting the textiles industry

We are supporting the textiles industry through a grant stream and events to bring together textiles industry stakeholders and information sharing. Our priorities are collaboration and innovative ideas to reduce textiles waste and use materials more efficiently.

We will share relevant information about textiles to inspire and educate businesses on how to innovate and implement circular economy solutions. This information will include best-practice insights, case studies and research reports.

To keep informed of events, grant opportunities and other updates, register for our CEBIC newsletter.

Contact us

You can share intel on what’s working for your organisation or get in touch to arrange a meeting and assistance from our team.

For other enquiries, email us at cebic@sustainability.vic.gov.au.

Why textiles

Infographic. Text version follows.

Textiles has been identified as a material type where CEBIC can help it achieve the dual benefits of a circular economy – reduced environmental harm and economic growth.

Textiles production has a significant environmental impact through water pollution, carbon emissions and demand for natural resources. The textiles waste stream is growing while only 7% of textiles waste was recycled in Australia in 2018/19 according to the 2020 National Waste Report.

Despite low recovery rates, momentum is growing in textiles industries to transition towards more circular products, production processes, consumption patterns and materials recovery strategies. Victoria has a strong fashion and textiles sector, with many local businesses already innovating by embracing new technologies and business models to drive circular economy outcomes.

Research shows that collaboration and knowledge sharing are key enablers to the circular economy transition for textiles, and we are placed to lead these activities and support textiles industries to build on existing momentum towards a circular economy.

There is significant interest and activity across Australia in reducing the impact of textiles. In June 2021, the Commonwealth Minister for Environment listed clothing textiles on the latest national product stewardship priority list.

Actions identified in the priority list include:

  • industry action to reduce the volume of clothing being sent to landfill and the environmental impacts of clothing
  • design of a national product stewardship scheme for end-of-life uniforms and workwear
  • establishment of an industry-wide stakeholder group to establish baseline data for textiles.

CEBIC’s activities will complement these actions.

Read more about the National Priority List in 2021-22.

Defining textiles

Textiles is more than just clothing. Textiles industries encompass a range of activities and materials including:

  • clothing and footwear
  • carpet and soft furnishings
  • industrial textiles and fibres.

Textile products are often made from multiple types of materials, both organic and synthetic. Commonly used textiles often contain a complex mixture of materials that are difficult to separate and recycle. Breaking down textiles into their virgin elements, in order to recycle them, can be time consuming and labour intensive.

Improvements in technology are facilitating higher levels of material yield, however, these technologies are still in their infancy and are not widely used in Australia.

Plastic microfibres from laundering synthetic clothing contribute to up to 35 per cent of primary microplastics in marine environments.

There are many stakeholders across the textiles supply chain including:

  • primary producers
  • manufacturers
  • designers
  • retailers
  • industrial textiles users
  • research organisations
  • not-for-profits and charities
  • recyclers
  • logistics providers
  • peak bodies.

Textiles and the circular economy

Our vision is for a circular economy that continually seeks to reduce the environmental impacts of production and consumption, while enabling economic growth through use of natural resources.

This means a future where textile materials and products are:

  • designed so that waste and pollution are eliminated.
  • kept in their original state for as long as possible through design for durability, business models that enable sharing or rental, reuse or resale and continuous maintenance and repair.

When textiles can no longer be used in their original state, the design of the materials, products, collection systems and recycling infrastructure should enable their safe and effective recovery and future use.

Research reports for textiles

We have collected a list of research and reports regarding the transition to a circular economy for textiles.

Circular Stories Guide
Monash University
2021

This study contributes to a formative understanding of the enablers, barriers and opportunities to transition to a circular economy model of production in textiles.

It analyses interviews with industry members from Australia’s Textile, Clothing and Footwear (TCF) industry about the current state of circular economy principles, business approaches, success stories, enablers, barriers and priority areas that may assist with transitioning the TCF industry towards a circular economy.

This information would be most useful to policymakers and businesses in Australia’s TCF industry looking for opportunities and examples of circular business models.

From High Fashion to High Vis – the economic contribution of Australia’s fashion and textile industry
Australian Fashion Council
2021

Analyses interviews from across the fashion and textiles supply chain about the economic impact of the fashion and textiles industry. This report includes information about the economic impact of the industry as well as information on key opportunities and barriers the industry faces following COVID-19.

This report would be most useful for businesses wanting to understand shifts in the industry and implement circular practices into their business model, as well as policymakers wanting to understand the contribution of the fashion and textiles industry.

Measuring the impact of the charitable recycling and reuse sector
Charitable Recycling Australia
2021

Examines the impact that clothing reuse and recycling has on sustainable outcomes in Australia. This study includes information on the environmental and economic outcomes of reuse from op shops when compared to landfill, as well as the methods of reuse employed by the charitable recycling sector to manage clothing donations.

This information would be most useful for policymakers and circular businesses involved in the reuse and recycling phase of clothing.

Thread Count – NSW textile data report
Report by ACTA for the NSW Environment Protection Authority
2021

Provides an overview of textiles flows in NSW including imported textiles, the proportion reused or landfilled, and the fibre makeup of textiles used in different sectors. This provides insights into infrastructure needs to recover textiles. The report also contains policy recommendations to support the recovery, recycling and reuse of textiles.

This information would be most useful for policymakers interested in how to best address textile waste.

Transitioning to a Circular Economy in Australia Summary of findings (pdf, 6.9 MB)
Monash Sustainable Development Institute | Monash University
2020

Monash Sustainable Development Institute (MSDI) in partnership with the Australian Fashion Council (AFC) and with funding from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) interviewed large manufacturers, retail organisations and small-to-medium organisations to investigate the appetite to adopt circular economy principles, and to identify factors that may be needed to support a transition.

This report will help businesses and other organisations in the textiles, clothing and footwear industry and policymakers to develop their understanding of the transition to a circular economy model of textile production.