Tackling New Zealand’s 220,000 Tonne Textile Problem

With New Zealand Fashion Week happening this week, a
group of waste and textile experts are calling on the
industry to start the conversation about what to do with
more than 220,000 tonnes of clothes and textiles thrown out
in New Zealand each year.

WasteMINZ is hosting an
online summit aimed at tackling textile waste next month,
which will include speakers from the fashion and textile
industries, the Associate Minister for the Environment,
Auckland University and more.

Most New Zealanders are
aware of fast fashion and the issue of not-made-to-last,
barely worn clothing being bought and thrown into landfill,
which is the main destination for end-of-life textiles in
NZ. While the amount of clothing being bought continues to
climb, the number of times a piece of clothing is worn
conversely declines.

As a result, op shops are
overwhelmed by the estimated 4,000 tonnes of clothing and
textiles which often ends up being sent offshore to Pacific
Island nations, especially Papua New Guinea. Approximately
50% of what is not sold in op shops or sent overseas is sent
to landfill, due to low quality and

Bernadette Casey, from the Textile Reuse
Programme, said options for recycling textiles in New
Zealand are limited, lack of onshore processing capability
means the small amount of textiles that are re-processed are
turned into other products, rather than being used to
manufacture more clothing. Globally, only 1% of clothing is
recycled back into clothing.

With the focus on fast
fashion it may come as a surprise that this does not make up
the majority of textile waste in Aotearoa.

found in our research that a considerable amount of textile
waste also comes from corporate uniforms, hotel linens and
hospital linens,” Bernadette said.

New Zealand lags
behind many other countries in trying to address the issue
of textile waste, Bernadette said.

“Across the EU
there is a zero textile to landfill by 2025 policy and a
strategy for sustainable and circular textiles. Several
European countries have extended producer

“Australia has launched a voluntary product
stewardship scheme for fashion textiles, yet here in New
Zealand there is no sign of a voluntary or regulated product
stewardship scheme for textiles in sight, and this is
something we need to address with urgency.

can’t continue to consume and discard clothing and
textiles at the current rate and meet our waste and climate

Summit details:

Product Stewardship Summit: blueprint or scramble
for textiles in Aotearoa?
is being held online
on Friday 22 September.

The summit brings together
brands, textile membership organisations and the resource
recovery sector to challenge what a product stewardship
scheme for all textiles might look like in NZ and how such a
scheme can address the root causes of our textile waste

The term blueprint or scramble was originally
used in the energy sector. It refers to different pathways
or scenarios to the circular future and advocates for a
planned process to getting to a low waste, low emissions

Product Stewardship ensures the costs of waste
get considered when design, production, distribution and use
decisions are made. In this way, product stewardship schemes
can contribute to both a reduction in waste and to better
recovery of materials from the waste stream. Those who
benefit from the product, fund the scheme and activities
that may have otherwise been funded by society in general
through rates or taxes.

more about the Product Stewardship Summit

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