Clothes being recycled
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Greater Western Water (GWW), in partnership with Assembled Threads, has trialed a pilot designed to help create employment opportunities for diverse communities while also recycling old uniforms.  

Assembled Threads is a social enterprise that offers manufacturing employment opportunities to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, with sewing skills and experience, who may otherwise struggle to find employment due to limited language skills and qualifications.  

The Circular Uniforms Pilot seeks to address the waste in uniform procurement by working with companies to extend the product life of uniforms and reduce the amount of textile waste going to landfill. 

GWW engaged Assembled Threads in February 2024 to assist with the recycling and repurposing of old personal protective equipment (PPE) and corporate uniforms.  

Since then, almost 65kg of old GWW uniforms have been collected and taken to Assembled Thread’s manufacturing hub in North Melbourne for repurposing or recycling, diverting waste from landfill and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by more than one tonne.  

The team at Assembled Threads have used GWW’s uniforms to either be repurposed – where logos have been removed and replaced with new fabric for resale – or recycled with material from the uniforms either being reused for mattress filling or woven back into new fabric.  

GWW Chief Operating Officer, Michael Wootten, said uniform recycling bins were now located at GWW’s Footscray and Sunbury offices to encourage employees to drop off their old uniforms for Assembled Threads to recycle or repurpose.  

“We are proud to work with Assembled Threads and be part of an initiative that empowers our local communities and helps to break down barriers by offering sustainable employment opportunities.  

“We are committed to taking action towards zero waste and working with Assembled Threads enables us to reduce energy use and emissions while supporting a circular economy approach,” Mr Wootten said.  

Assembled Threads Chief Executive Officer, Edwina Walsh, said that in 2022 the average person was buying 60 per cent more clothing than 15 years ago, yet each item was kept for only half as long.  

“To put that into context, that is one rubbish truck per second of textile waste heading to landfill.  

“Assembled Threads’ Circular Uniforms Pilot seeks to address the waste in uniform procurement by working together with government and corporations to create circular pathways for uniforms that extend product life and reduce our extreme reliance on burying our waste. 

“This project creates employment hours for those in our community who really need them, helping build confidence and economic security whilst also addressing our textile waste crisis, which is a win-win for us all,” Ms Walsh said. 

Image: Kostikova+Natalia/shutterstock.com 

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