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Sinner to Saviour: Qld company that's turning fashion industry green

Business

A Queensland company is taking fast fashion and turning it on its head through a process that is “part laundry, part brewery”.

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The end result is that a garment thrown out today could end up in BlockTexx’s Loganholme facility, currently under construction, and ultimately become a meal tray or a coat hanger, according to the company’s co-founder Adrian Jones.

“We wear a garment six times before we dispose of it, but in the under 25 cohort it is less than once. It staggers me,’’ Jones said.

“Since I started this journey four years ago I stopped buying new clothes and I’m still not walking around naked. I still have a cupboard full of them.’’

He said consumers were now seeing the waste as an environmental problem.

“Companies like Nike and H&M are making big promises and consumers are saying that’s good we will buy into your brand if you do this but we will also punish you if you don’t,” Jones said.

“So I think our time has come. I will probably do this for the next 20 years and in that time there will probably be another five or six players in the industry, but I think it will be 50 years before people are saying: gosh remember when we used to throw clothes away?’’

More than $5 million was raised earlier this year from investors like Mike and Sue Gregg, to build the first facility at Loganholme.

It will initially take about 4000 tonnes a year of waste materials and turn it into 2000 tonnes of polyster chips and 2000 tonnes of a cellulose that could be used in mulch or geo-fabrics or paint thickeners or, eventually, another garment.

“There is nearly 1 million tonnes of textiles going to landfill a year in Australia and by the end of this decade there will be about 140 million tonnes globally so there is no shortage of supply,’’ Jones said.

“We take something like a bed sheet and put it through our process that is a bit of a cross between a laundry and brewery and there is a reaction in which we unlock the cotton from the polyester.’’

He said the BlockTexx model was based on people seeing the environmental advantage.

“We can say to them if they pay $300 to put a tonne of bedsheets into landfill why not pay me $300 and I will take it off you and make you look like a hero.’’

“For the same price they can demonstrate they are environmental saviours as opposed to a sinner.

“For every tonne of textile recycled you offset 30 tonnes of CO2-equivalent.

“We have one guy from Korea that wants to buy 6000 tonnes of polyester a month so that is a little over our capacity at the moment but those kinds of signals give me confidence.’’

Blocktexx has had financial backing from councils and the State Government and QUT helped development of the pilot process at its facility in Mackay.

The Loganholme facility is expected to be completed in March and will employ about 30 people when in full operation.

BlockTexx is already looking for a second site, potentially south of Sydney where there is a huge amount of wasted garments.

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