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Textile recycling business to divert 50,000 tonnes of landfill waste and create 140 jobs over four years

Textile recycling business to divert 50,000 tonnes of landfill waste and create 140 jobs over four years

Two men united in their quest to tackle one of the planet’s greatest landfill issues - clothing waste - have founded Queensland-based textile recycling business BlockTexx.

This world-first operation, which uses a unique chemical separation process at commercial scale, will recycle around 50,000 tonnes of textiles and create 140 jobs over the next four years with its manufacturing facility set to go from August.

Sportswear and fast fashion create significant waste and landfill

Founders Graham Ross, a former media executive and creator of a sustainable sportswear brand and Adrian Jones, a fashion veteran and CEO, began their epic recycling journey in 2018.

“Every year in Australia, almost one million tonnes of textile waste ends up in landfill. With combined professional backgrounds in media and fashion, Adrian and I had a dream for a future textile resource recovery industry to drive textile and fashion businesses towards sustainability and influence the government’s circular economy policy,” he says.

Graham says as a regular triathlon competitor he became deeply concerned about the wastage and landfill linked to his accumulating number of triathlon singlets which led him to thinking about the landfill associated with all textile waste.

“Every time you run a marathon or triathlon, you are given a shirt – so a lot of my friends and I ended up with a wardrobe full of shirts we never used and would eventually throw away,” he says.

“I started to look into what that meant, and I was shocked at the impact fast fashion and my wardrobe had on the environment.

“There are charity shops of course – but very little in place for garments that are no longer wearable - the T-shirt you loved-to-death, just ends up in landfill.”

Australians buy an average of 27 kilograms of new textiles each year and discard about 23 kilograms to landfill. Two thirds of this fashion waste is made of synthetic fibers that may never break down.

By 2050, it has been estimated that more than 150 million tonnes of clothing will be dumped into landfills or incinerated. The weight of these clothes would accumulate to more than ten times that of today’s global population.

BlockTexx Graham Ross(L) Adrian Jones(R)

The Queensland Government supports textile recycling

Thanks to a $600,000 grant from the Queensland Government’s Resource Recovery Industry Program, BlockTexx has been able to attract significant federal and private seed funding to commission and build its state-of-the-art advanced chemistry and processing facility in Logan-City Council area which the council have has identified as a leading Queensland manufacturing hub.

With the initial funding from the Queensland Government in 2020 on board, Graham says BlockTexx has been able to raise a further $5 million.

“This includes private investment totalling $3.8 million, a Federal Government Commercialisation Grant for $991,617 and $155,000 from Logan City Council.” he says.

BlockTexx will break down and repurpose cotton and polyester materials – which make up around 80 per cent of textile use – that would ordinarily be destined for landfill.

“We are writing the manual here because we are the first to do it at scale. We are a small business now, but with a view to becoming a global industry,” he says.

Graham says that once the plant reaches stage two of operations in early 2024 it will deliver $43 million in economic benefit to the Logan region, whilst diverting 50,000 tonnes of textile waste from Queensland landfill.

What is a circular economy?

Graham explains BlockTexx truly is the epitome of a circular economy.

“Everything coming in here is waste and everything going out of here is a product,” he says.

The company’s recycling process sees material being put into a huge vat, where polyester and cotton are separated. Cotton is broken down to cellulose, which can be used for paints, cosmetics, hydromulch, concrete and more.

Polyester goes through a heating and liquifying process to become pellets that can be used in many forms of injection molding to manufacture a diverse range of items including office fit-outs and furniture, geofabric (used for retaining walls and road underlay and more in construction), playground equipment, and even coat hangers.

For more information head to our Industry development program.

Last updated: 14 Jun 2023