Designing Out Landfill

Event at the Institute of Materials 15.06
- to stimulate the exchange of ideas in addressing the issue of reducing the volume of textile waste that goes to landfill.

I stayed for the morning - an inspiring and informative range of presentations, if a bit heavy on stats!

Sophie Thomas
is co-founder of greengaged
'greengaged aims to galvanise designers to take up the sustainable challenge'
Thinking behind their projects aim to divert waste from landfill, to think of waste as a resource, to create new materials & processes surrounding waste.
They are running a series of events at the London Design Festival this year.
She said the problem with the design industry is that it is wrapped up in defining yourself with style and products.

Some of her stats (her powerpoint didn't credit her sources...tuttut):
UK households produce over 25 million tonnes of waste every year.
UK currently has 106 sq miles of landfill.

One pair of shoes takes 8,000 litres of water to make
1 computer requires 1.83 tons of raw materials to make.

She referred to a book 'Citizens Advice Notes', given out to people in Britain in 1938 in which people were instructed not to throw anything away....not even a tiny length of string. How things have changed in such a short timespan!

Kresse Wesling, founder of
E&KO reclaims industrial waste and re-engineers it into unique lifestyle accessories
This woman is inspirational!
She talked about two case studies of products they have created -
bags from used fire hose pipes
bags for Sainsburys from coffee sacks used to deliver the raw coffee

They donate 50percent of profits back to the source of the material (i.e.to the fireman's charity)

This is a sustainable business model with a highly enterprising woman at the helm.
She has spent a good deal of time hanging out at landfills observing patterns of what comes in.

Nick Morley
Oakdene Hollins delivers technical and economic insights for clients concerned with, amongst other things, managing waste and remanufacturing.

1 gallon of oil to make 1 kilo of polyester
Generally the grade of textiles is going down.
In the past 10 years, much more of our waste is being diverted from landfill (i.e. to be recycled). However, we are throwing more away in so the proportion diverted is growing. Less textiles are being diverted.
Research was done on textile content in bins. The poorest areas throw away the most textiles.
The trend in recycling collection boxes is on 'comingled collection' (where everything is put in the recycling box and sorted later).
Cominglers hate textiles because it gets contaminated and therefore becomes less usable.
However, ease of disposal is really important to people.

He listed some 'diversion' schemes currently out there:
M&S Voucher scheme with Oxfam
Mountain Equipment Co-Op (Canada) - they enable people to sell their used Mountain Equipment stuff through their website.

The DEFRA report on recyled textiles will be avail in a month.

Casper Gray
Director Wax
Sustainable design and research

He suggested reasons why textiles reach their 'end of life'
Fashion, boredom/change, bad fit, wear, damage, loss
and implied that designers could have a stronger role in improving these aspects.

Besides this, other landfill causes are
fabric manufacture, off cut and errors when cutting fabric, fabric samples.

- It takes ten times more energy to recycle textiles as glass.

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