Australians are among the highest consumers of new clothing worldwide, with the average person buying 56 pieces (14.8kg) of new clothing each year.
The Clothing Data Report, led by Peter Alan of Sustainable Resource Use, also revealed that the country currently imports 1.42 billion units of clothes annually, equivalent to 373,000 tonnes, while local clothes production hit 38 million units or 10,000 tonnes, annually.
The report is part of the government-funded National Clothing Product Stewardship Scheme (NCPSS) led by The Australian Fashion Council. The scheme aims to transform how clothing is made, used and recirculated in Australia to create clothing circularity by 2030. It aims to achieve this through the waste hierarchy’s R-strategies in reducing waste and accelerating reuse, repair, refurbishment, remanufacture, repurposing, recycling and recovery.
“Undertaking this research has uncovered the data gaps that still exist in our industry,” shares AFC CEO Leila Naja Hibri. “These reports provide a robust baseline to measure the progress and success of the NCPSS.”
The study also revealed the value of the social economy and the charity sector’s role in the country’s circular economy. It is estimated that Australian charities receive 190,000 tonnes of clothes each year – among the highest in developed countries. At the same time, 20,000 tonnes are circulated through re=sale platforms and via hand-me-downs.
Omer Soker, CEO and consortium partner of Charitable Recycling Australia, said the country’s reuse charities have helped extend the life of an estimated $527 million worth of pre-loved clothes.
“With data and evidence-informed reuse interventions, the NCPSS can further encourage consumers to donate and reuse clothing and provide automated sorting and disassembly infrastructure needed to scale domestic onshore solutions, with better tracking and accreditation for clothing reuse overseas,” said Soker.