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Australian clothing industry launches roadmap to circularity

Some of Australia’s major fashion and clothing brands have committed to be foundation members of a national stewardship scheme that aims to make Australian fashion and clothing truly circular.


8 June 2023

Launched by the Minister for Environment and Water, Tanya Plibersek, the National Clothing Product Stewardship Scheme design and the Roadmap to Clothing Circularity, aims to significantly reduce the 200,000 tonnes of clothing that currently goes to Australian landfill each year.

Seamless will drive the industry towards clothing circularity by 2030 through:

  • - Incentivising clothing design that is more durable, repairable, sustainable and recyclable.
  • - Fostering new circular business models for clothing based on reuse, repair, re-manufacturing and rental.
  • - Expanding clothing collection and sorting for effective re-use and to ensure non-wearable clothes are recycled.
  • - Encouraging citizen behaviour change for clothing acquisition, use, care and disposal.

A stewardship approach recognises that the fashion and clothing brands who place clothes on the market are responsible for the entire life of that garment, from design through to recycling or sustainable disposal.

The foundation members of the National Clothing Product Stewardship Scheme, Seamless, are BIG W, David Jones, Lorna Jane, Rip Curl, R.M. Williams and THE ICONIC. Each organisation has committed $100,000 to fund a 12-month transition phase while the Seamless scheme is established.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority is also contributing $100,000 to the transition phase as a supporting partner.

The scheme design report released today recommends that Seamless is funded by a 4 cent per garment levy paid by clothing brands and retailers who become members of the scheme. If 60% of the market by volume sign up to the scheme, a funding pool of $36 million will be raised per year to transform the industry.

If industry signs up to the scheme, the activities driven by Seamless, stakeholders and citizens are projected to divert 60% of end-of-life clothing from landfill by 2027.

Seamless was created by a Consortium led by the Australian Fashion Council with Charitable Recycling Australia, Queensland University of Technology, Sustainable Resource Use and WRAP Asia Pacific.

The scheme design is the result of significant research and analysis, and extensive discussions with stakeholders across the value chain including clothing brands, retailers, charities, recyclers and government agencies.

The Australian Government provided funding for the scheme design.

Leila Naja Hibri, CEO of the Australian Fashion Council, said Seamless is the industry’s response to its clothing waste problem, that will change the way Australians make, consume and recycle their clothes.

“Today, some of our industry’s most pioneering and progressive brands and retailers are uniting to do what no single business, organisation or even government can do alone.”

“Seamless will guide the transition from the current unsustainable linear model of take, make and dispose, to a circular economy of reduce, reuse and recycle.”

“We need to start transitioning to the wardrobe of the future, where clothes are acquired differently, loved for longer and recirculated with care. This systematic and seismic transformation will require courage, creativity and most importantly, collaboration.”

“We need to act now. Our industry, and most importantly our planet, depends on it.”

Leila said.

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