Recycling Old Work Uniforms: An Implementation Guide

Recycling Old Work Uniforms: An Implementation Guide

Recycling old work uniforms is for the most part, not even on the radar for most businesses. Australian companies are only just beginning to investigate implementing a textile recycling initiative as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility programs. Admittedly, there’s not much information out there on where to start. Firstly, we must truly understand what textile recycling is.

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What is Textile Recycling?

Textile recycling can be best described as:

  • Mechanically cutting the garment into rags to be repurposed for third party uses. Padding for chairs, car seats, general vehicle upholstery, carpet underlays, floor matting, insulation, blanks and even cleaning rags all consist of recycled textiles.
  • De-branding and re-distributing the garment into local or international second-hand clothing markets.
  • Mechanically shredding down textile items into a fibrous form. These fibres from recycled textiles can then be turned back into raw materials such as thread.

The majority of textile recycling methods involve open-loop recycling which refers to recycling your old uniforms into a different product – for example, gardening gloves, industrial wipes, or the felt used inside tennis balls – therefore avoiding landfill.

We’ve compiled a short list of questions to help your business prepare for a uniform recycling program.

How do you Start a Uniform Recycling Program?

Total Uniform Solutions understands that each and every business is different and once launched, we will tailor a Uniform Recycling Program that fits your businesses processes, volume of textiles and organisational needs. Here’s a list of questions that our team has compiled which will help you start planning for introducing a uniform recycling program into your business.

How many employees do you have?

How many uniforms does the average employee own?

How frequently are the uniforms typically replaced?
The average is every 12 months, but this does vary between garment types and industries due to usage/wear and tear.

What type of industry do you work in?

What type of fabrics are the uniforms made of?
This will determine how/if they can be recycled. For example, cotton, polyester, blended fabrics, heavy-duty workwear or specialised workwear such as Fire Resistant garments.

How will the old uniforms be collected for recycling?
The team at Total Uniform Solutions will help you work this out as the logistics will depend on how your business is structured. The cost and logistics involved in transporting the unwanted textiles is one of the biggest aspects to consider. Our team will help you streamline this process and offer ways to lessen the economic impact.

Who will be in charge of liaising with your recycling partner?
Someone will need to be responsible to advocate for this program and communicate the importance of recycling on an ongoing basis. They will work closely with us to oversee the logistics of the program.

Who can we partner with to facilitate uniform recycling?
Total Uniform Solutions are experts in uniform supply and manufacture, and we are currently building a sophisticated textile recycling programs for our clients. Click here to find out more about our Uniform Recycling Program and be notified when it launches!

How to communicate a Uniform Recycling Program to your staff?
After you have answered all of these preliminary questions, we now need to shift our focus on how you will inform and enforce this program to your business and employees. Editing an existing uniform policy, a team meeting, online training, your company's intranet, company memos, newsletters etc. Any internal communication touch points are all excellent ways to educate employees. Reiterate the importance of the initiative and encourage everyone to do their part.

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Why We are Developing a Uniform Recycling Program

At Total Uniform Solutions, we have significant experience in custom uniform manufacturing, product development and procurement. Most importantly however, we understand and recognise the growing problem of textile waste in Australia.

Companies across Australia are failing to recognise how much they are contributing to our landfill problem and the impact that has on the environment. Such a simple program that involves recycling old, unwanted and damaged work uniforms would save tonnes of textiles entering our landfill every year.

As a leading uniform supplier in Australia, we feel that it is our responsibility to be a leader for change. That’s why we are encouraging every business, no matter the industry, to get in touch with us about our Uniform Recycling Program.

When you are ready to add textile recycling to your Corporate Social Responsibility commitments, click here

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