Diverse partners have come together to create a circular system to reuse the untapped resource of unwanted clothing and textiles.
Cellulose is currently imported for use as an additive in asphalt roading mix to stabilise it, improve its workability, homogeneity and the strength of the final road. Meanwhile, we have an estimated 220,000 tonnes of potential fibre in the form of textiles going to landfill in New Zealand every year.
Scion started working with Usedfully® (through The Formary) in 2017. What started as a desk top exercise into potential applications for waste textile fibre in New Zealand quickly sparked industry interest and led to funding. Together, the goal is to create a circular system to reuse the untapped resource of unwanted clothing and textiles.
Over the last year, the collaborators have brought their unique perspective, background and vision to the project. Usedfully® and its Textile Reuse Programme Partners Alsco NZ, Deane Apparel and Barkers Clothing are focusing on textile collection and recycling systems and connecting value chain partners. In parallel, Scion is working on fibre processing, testing and material development; WSP Research on roading material development and testing; and Waka Kotahi on road construction and future infrastructure requirements.
In 2020-21, the project has progressed to the point where the refining process needs to be scaled-up to enable roading trials. Scion and Usedfully® are exploring options for New Zealand’s first textile fibre recycling pilot plant, including further applications for the produced fibre, like use in the built environment.
Creating a circular pathway for unwanted textiles and reusing the fibres in roading will reduce the country’s reliance on imported products and improve the performance of our roads.
Diverting New Zealand’s textile was from landfills could result in potential greenhouse gas emissions reduction of 400,000 t CO2e a year.
Usedfully® and Scion are on a path that will make a difference to New Zealand. This includes the reuse of branded textiles like uniforms, which currently need to be destroyed. Additionally, we could reduce the country’s reliance on imported products while improving the performance of our roads. Work like this is accelerating New Zealand’s transition to a low-carbon, circular economy
“Scion’s deep knowledge, industry oversight and connections have been key to Usedfully – Textile Reuse Programme’s design and delivery of a Circular Economy for clothing and textiles in Aotearoa. Our long term partnership has been an enjoyable relationship that has delivered pragmatic and scalable solutions for a low carbon economy.” - Peter Thompson, CEO Usedfully
“It has been a pleasure working with Scion on the project with Usedfully and The Formary. Our mutual enthusiasm for materials science and applied research has created new possibilities for roading materials, and we are delighted to be part of the team on this journey.” - Jeremy Wu, Research Manager Transport, WSP Research