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SFC & Clothing CleanUp partnership

The Sustainable Fashion Centre has created a partnership with the Clothing CleanUp and its parent company King Cotton.

We aim to open the Sustainable Fashion Centre in a Sydney central location and be a place for customers to drop-off used clothing into a provided bin, called the SUSTAINABLE FASHION CENTRE COLLECTION BANK.

Clothing bins are by far the most productive collection yield of any other form of clothing collection and is the best way to offer a service that keeps textiles out of landfill plus help develop a more circular economy. The average clothing bin can yield between 150 – 225 kilos of recycle clothing per week.

The SFC and Clothing CleanUp aim to re-brand the bins with the goal to increase public education on the importance of donating and not dumping; to help stop the massive number of textiles going into landfill.

A key component to the awareness campaign is to re-educate and deter unwanted products from being dumped into the bins which is the cause for the majority of the sorting and landfill problems and creates the greatest expense for all Australian charity bin collection services.

We invite the City of Sydney plus other interested Councils and businesses, to place the SFC Collection Bank bins, both moveable and fixed, in strategic locations to emphasis our determination to present circular economy concepts with clear textile waste solutions.

We aim to encourage Councils, corporations and individual businesses to support the service by offering free space to house either a small or large bin, plus receive the bins and the pick-up service free of charge.

“Leading the way in sustainable waste management, City of Canada Bay has rolled out a new, free clothing and textile collection and recycling service for residents that will divert up to 665kg of waste from landfill each year, Mayor Angelo Tsirekas said.”


By partnering with the Clothing CleanUp, SFC aims is to increase the amount of textile waste being collected, used and diverted from landfill.

The collaboration will also act as a cross-promotional opportunity for the Centre plus Clothing CleanUp’s new collection service that has just expanded to 650 Sydney suburbs.

The Clothing CleanUp have three services that include the large metal bins, the small moveable bins suitable for high-rise residential buildings and businesses, plus their pick-up service whereby they collect from a residence or business for free after booking online at

or call 1300 889 014.

The Clothing CleanUp collect clothing, manchester, handbags, accessories (hats, belts etc) and shoes. They offer this service for free to increase recycling and stop the huge amount of unwanted clothing and accessories that are being dumped or thrown away.

The Clothing CleanUp, under the umbrella of King Cotton, is a family run business who employ around 40 people and have been working closely with Councils and local government on setting this service up for many years. In addition to the UNSW donations mentioned below, they support charities with major donations to the Make A Wish (major partner with over $130k per year) as well as Youthsafe, Youth Off the Streets and Enough is Enough. Their total charity contributions for period ending 30th June 2019 will exceed a total contribution of $200,000.

The SFC and Clothing CleanUp aim to help stem the current statistics of over 500 million kilos of unwanted clothing being thrown away each year. That equates to 32,000 buses filled with clothing, and the number is growing daily as Australia is named the 2nd largest consumer of new clothes in the world.

In addition to the environmental outcomes, this clothing recycling model creates social benefits both locally and internationally including:

  • Employment of low skilled workers in Australia

  • Large employment opportunities at sorting plants, primarily in Malaysia, Middle East and Pakistan i.e. documented ethical payment of salaries with the large sorting warehouses associated with King Cotton who hire over 300 people, 6 days a week

  • Low cost clothing offered to most African, Asian, Eastern European and Middle East markets

  • Affordable clothing offered within King Cotton’s retail platforms, U-Turn Recycled Clothing.


King Cotton/Clothing CleanUp’s existing framework is capable of easily doubling its capacity, which currently totals over 5,000 tonnes of clothing and accessories across Australia each year. Since 1980, King Cotton have diverted from local landfill around 200,000 tonnes of clothing and textiles, and by increasing this we can make a much larger contribution to keeping textiles out of landfill in Sydney alone.

All bins are collected and transported to the warehouse facilities in Punchbowl, only 27kms from the Sydney-centre, to be sorted and re-packaged ready to distribute.

The textile re-distribution chain is broken down to the following: |

1. 5% of collected waste is re-sold through King Cotton’s U-Turn Recycled Clothing six stores with two in Newtown, Marrickville, Surry Hills, Rozelle and Bondi Beach.

2. To create a circular economy for the absolute rag waste they collect, King Cotton contributed cash and waste donations to the cutting-edge research in green manufacturing with the UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials, Research and Develop.

This Feasibility study produced wood-textile bio composite from waste textile and allowed the study of using textile waste as a binder in a wood-plastic composite, for the development of a new generation of high performance non-toxic engineered wood bio-composite for building, furniture and architectural applications.

“The technology has huge potential to be part of the next generation low-carbon production process with sustainable social and environmental benefits. The technology is now having a provisional patent filed and thanks to the industry support for this research, the UNSW is now in the process of seeing these micro factories licensed and commercialised with small to medium operators.

The licensing model also includes an option for a free-use licence for social enterprises, not-for-profits and charities which create employment in regional communities and economically disadvantaged areas in Australia.” Tony Dobbie, UNSW Innovations.

3. The bulk of the collected product follows the repair-and-recycle circular economy model. It is sorted and shipped unadulterated to Malaysia, Middle East and Pakistan for repair, and then shipped to Africa for resale.

Because of the high quality of Australia’s textile waste, this model has also now begun to be emulated by another of Australia’s largest used clothing charity chains as it is an effective service that supports developing African countries with inexpensive quality clothes.


When thinking about how to close the loop for the Sustainable Fashion Centre and be another voice creating circular options for the fashion industry, I wanted to research the realities of exporting Australia’s used clothes to Africa. I had read that the second-hand clothing market was in fact damaging for the local African textile industry, so I sought to understand the pros and cons.

Earlier in 2017 and 2018, it was reported that some East African nations were looking to ban the importation of recycled clothing and/or increasing tariffs in order to generate a local textile manufacturing industry. Concerns were also expressed that this will create negative outcomes until such time that these African nations can secure their own industry first.

Some countries introduced taxes which saw an increase in cost and caused difficulty for the poorer communities plus created an increase in the black market. What is also of concern is an existing push to have recycled clothing markets replaced by imported “fast fashion” made in Asia, and for imports to come without stringent quality control.

“The real winner in this dispute will be China, experts say. Chinese exports of cheap, ready-made clothes to East Africa is worth $1.2 bn, according to the USAID survey. This far outstrips the value of second-hand clothing imports, which are currently being bought by the poorest 40% of the population in East Africa.”

"This will just open up more market space and greater dependency on them [China]. The individuals buying the clothes won't have the means to buy domestic-made apparel, so they are going to turn to cheap, ready-made clothes from China," said Grant T Harris, who served as the principal adviser to former US President Barack Obama on issues related to Africa, told the BBC.

Around 67% of the population in East Africa purchased at least a portion of their clothes from used clothing markets, the USAID study found. (US Agency for International Development (USAID) *1

As was evidenced by Zimbabwe reversing the decision to ban recycled clothing within two years of an initial ban in 2015. This was due to the lack of support for the Asian imports, a preference for the recycled clothing by comparison, an increase in the recycled clothing black market trade and lack of local supply.

Rodgers Mukwaya from the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) says “The logic behind the plan seems to make sense at least: as second-hand clothes gradually disappear from the market, the demand for new garments will increase.

"In the short run the deficit will be covered by new clothes from Asia," explains Mukwaya. By this he means imports from China, which are already flooding the market. "In the long term however, we believe that we can take over part of this market ourselves," he says, "however, it is important for us to expand our textile industry." *2

An early 2005 study published by Oxfam “suggests that in spite of damage to the overall textile production industry, the import of second-hand clothes (SHC) is overall a beneficial practice. According to the study:

  • While second-hand clothing represents only a very small proportion of the global clothing trade, it represents more than 30 percent of imports and over 50 percent by volume of clothing imports to many sub-Saharan countries.

  • SHC provides clear consumer benefits. Case in point, over 90 percent of Ghanaians buy SHC.

  • SHC imports provide livelihoods to hundreds of thousands of people in developing nations, citing the employment of 24,000 in Senegal alone.

  • While SHC imports have contributed to the erosion of industrial textile/clothing production and employment in West Africa, they would inevitably be prey to increasingly inexpensive imports from Asia which compete with local production. *3

A more recent study by the German Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ) and the Swiss Academy for Development (SAD) “also support the international trade of second-hand clothing to Africa.”

“If used clothes were banned (which by the way are in excellent conditions, but much cheaper than new ones), the countries would be flooded with low-quality goods from Asia. The reason for this certainly lies in the poverty of the people, who simply cannot afford to have the local tailor manufacture their clothes.”

“For Linda Calabrese from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), a London-based think-tank, the expansion of the EAC's textile industry is crucial to success:

"The production capacity at the moment is quite limited," she says, "So in order for that space to be filled, there needs to be a lot of support to the sector, a lot of complementary measures — and these have nothing to do with a phase out." Calabrese says this often means adequate infrastructure is lacking, as well as power supply.”

“Nevertheless, there is still a lot of work to be done if the EAC want to build-up its textile industry. Rwanda had predicted that 25,655 new jobs could be created by 2019 if second-hand clothing imports were banned.

So far, however, there are just eleven companies listed in the country which produce textiles, along with seven others which manufacture shoes. Most of these are small businesses — even the largest clothing producer, G & H Garments, only employs 1,500 people. *2

With America’s intervention, a potential new “fast fashion” crisis has so far been averted. The report that Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda, of the East African Community were planning to ban recycled goods from 2019 was met with strong condemnation suggesting it was violating America’s African Growth and Opportunity Act and steps were taken to issue proposed retaliatory measures by the United States.

Although it’s understood that this decision was reversed, there is still the potential for a 100% immediate ban on recycled clothes which would have potential catastrophic implications caused by an exponential increase in fast fashion landfill resulting in additional environmental problems.

It is hoped that a growth in local organic farming and fashion manufacturing will help African nations develop their own industries. Unfortunately, this is currently not achievable due to the number of barriers experienced, and in the interim it is important that these countries continue to import quality recycled products to supply the existing demand.

The reason for accepting recycled goods and textiles from Australia is due to the higher quality control on manufacturing and original imports, thus making them able to be repaired or almost new. The current system with products coming from King Cotton and other Australian exporters meet their criteria of garments that focus on durability and light weight summer clothing.


Existing moves to invest money into Africa’s own textile industry are met with a variety of problems that include drought, price of oil, transport, logistics, regular currency devaluation, civil war, security, corruption, plus any proposals to increase existing cotton farming is problematic in arid countries along with the potential of introducing chemicals and future water supply.

“Aid is a major issue. Governance. Export and trade policies. Textile processing. The lack of machinery and technology keeps Africa’s textile industry behind Asia,” writes Jacqueline Shaw.

“There are some successes that can be modelled such as Ethiopia who “is presently Africa’s hotspot with H&M, Primark, and Tesco opened there.” says Jacqueline, founding Director of Africa Fashion Guide who takes clients on sourcing trips. *4

It is hoped that textile manufacturing infrastructure support will be offered as is seen in Ethiopia, and can be emulated throughout Africa, however realistically this will take time, plus both political and financial will. In the meantime, SFC is happy to support The Clothing CleanUp’s business model to continue providing high quality recycled textiles from Australia.


By re-naming the bins to the Sustainable Fashion Centre Collection Bank, we hope to re-educate users to the importance of recycling and highlight what is acceptable and what is not. Ultimately, when they get it wrong, it means that its more likely that their actions have spoilt the entire bin, and the total contents need to be dumped into landfill.

In addition to the clear reference that the Clothing CleanUp is a commercial operator, every clothing bin will state the connection to Councils, businesses and receiving charities.

We also envisage to design and promote a similar recycling label as recently released by PlanetArk as The Australasian Recycling Label. This label aims to highlight the importance of donating and not dumping and help give the public clear direction regarding what to do with their textile waste.

Councils and businesses are offered cross promotion opportunities such as branding, PR and marketing, along with associated opportunities with the Sustainable Fashion Centre and our curated Upcycled and Recycled Fashion Showcases.


Working with Sydney art curators, the SFC propose to curate an “art on bins” project to cover the large public Clothing CleanUp bins to generate interest, attention and publicity.

“At least 35 million items of clothing thrown away by 16-24 year old’s in the UK each year are ending up in landfill.

#LoveNotLandfill is a new campaign in partnership with LM Barry and backed by ECAP to tackle the volume of clothes going to landfill. New clothes banks are popping up across London to encourage young consumers to recycle their unwanted clothes 📷♻️”




M. 0414 289 778

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