In late 2022, the Australian Federal Government shared a vision and commitment to transition Australia to a circular economy by 2030 and Net Zero by 2050.
In order to achieve circularity by 2030, the Australian clothing industry needs to fundamentally transform the way clothing is designed, produced, consumed and disposed of, both locally and on a global scale.
Current vs future state
Currently, the lifecycle for clothing in Australia is linear – we take, make and dispose of our clothing, typically in landfill. Clothing circularity will be achieved when the clothing lifecycle becomes circular, and follows a reduce, reuse, recycle model.
Priority areas for clothing circularity
The funds raised as part of the clothing stewardship scheme called Seamless, will be administered by an independent product stewardship organisation that will guide the transformation to clothing circularity by investing in four priority areas:
- Circular design: designing, developing and making clothing differently
- Circular business models: rethinking how we acquire our clothing
- Closing the loop: transforming how clothes are collected, sorted and recycled
- Citizen behaviour change: changing that way we think about and engage with clothing
Achieving clothing circularity by 2030
The Roadmap to Clothing Circularity will guide a just transition of the Australian clothing industry to circularity by 2030. It recommends we:
- Set the foundation
- Build the business case
- Learn, adjust and scale
Following this roadmap will mean that in 2030, how Australians acquire, use and dispose of their clothing will be very different.
The wardrobe of the future will contain fewer clothes, most of which will be made to last from renewable fibre. Many items will be loved for longer, or enjoying a second life, or will have found their way into the wardrobe from new sources like rental or made-to-order. It will be standard practice for less durable items (such as underwear) to be made from recycled materials.
For Australia’s clothing industry to achieve circularity by 2030, collaboration is required across the value chain to drive the transformative change needed to reduce, reuse and recycle clothing.
Together we will need to create a circular clothing economy focused on mitigating climate change and upholding social justice, fostering creativity in thriving business models and encouraging healthy citizen behaviour for a prosperous future on a liveable planet.