Textiles waste in Australia

Reducing consumption and investing in circularity
by Nina Gbor and Olivia Chollet

Every year, over 300,000 tonnes of clothing is either sent to landfill or exported from Australia.

To respond to the growing textiles waste problem, the Commonwealth has proposed policies intended to create a ‘circular economy.’

However, a genuinely circular economy depends on drastically reducing the rate at which textiles are produced and consumed, banning the export of textiles waste, and investing in Australia’s capacity to manufacture and recycle better alternatives domestically.

This paper discusses how textiles waste is generated and discarded in Australia, and the policies needed to create a ‘circular economy’ for textiles. Australia’s addiction to cheap textiles, many of which are derived from fossil fuels, has global consequences. The rapid production and overconsumption of textiles – particularly ‘fast fashion’ – creates obstacles to the reuse and repair of textiles, and our inability to reuse or recycle them domestically means we continue to rely on exporting textiles waste to landfills, waterways and beaches far from Australian shores.

Textiles Waste In Australia