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Australia’s new trial returns cotton textile waste back to cotton fields

YarnsandFibers News Bureau 2021-06-17 10:16:19 – Australia

Textile waste is being spread on cotton fields in Australia as part of a pioneering study to see if shredded cotton could enhance soil health and minimize the amount of trash going to landfills.

The initiative which is led by circular economy specialists Coreo, is a collaboration between Cotton Australia, Goondiwindi Cotton, Queensland State Government, Sheridan Bedding, upcycler Worn Up, and soil scientist Dr. Oliver Knox of the University of New England (UNE), who is sponsored by the Cotton Research and Development Corporation.

As a part of this initiative, two tonnes of cotton textiles, garments, and end-of-life emergency service uniforms were shredded by Worn Up in Sydney, brought to the "Alcheringa" farm, and spread into a field by farmer Sam Coulton, just outside the remote town of Goondiwindi, Queensland.

The textiles are expected to decompose in the soil, increasing microbial activity, locking in carbon, and providing cover to improve soil moisture. The breakdown of these clothes in soil, rather than going to landfill, will reduce 2,250kg of CO2 equivalents (CO2 e) into the atmosphere, according to projections.

Brooke Summers from Cotton Australia said returning cotton garments to the fields where they were grown will entirely close the loop on a cotton product, benefiting their farmers, their soils, and the environment. It's a thrilling prospect.

The trial will be finished before the start of the cotton harvest in early 2022, with preliminary findings expected soon after.

Dr. Oliver Knox, said they need to improve their waste reduction and management strategies. The ability to divert garments from landfills, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and even nourish their soils might contribute to the implementation of more sustainable practices in a variety of industries.

Textile waste is a huge issue for communities and supply chains throughout the world, with the latest Australian estimate estimating that 85% of clothing is discarded at the end of its useful life.

Farmer Sam Coulton believes that being a part of the solution is really beneficial. He adds they cultivate it here, and they should be able to bury it here with a beneficial impact on the environment and the local community.

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