Going Green: SCRgroup
How this company is helping Australians give their unwanted clothes a second life, so they don't end up as landfill.
Do you ever wonder what happens to clothes once we're done with them? While it's nice to think that they get recycled or sent to the op-shop, most of them actually end up in landfill.
In fact, government data shows that a staggering 23kg of clothing per person ends up in landfill each year in Australia. When you consider that we buy 27kg of new clothes each year, what's thrown out is equivalent to about 85% of what we actually buy.
The good news is that a lot of clothes can have a second life by being rehomed, re-used or recycled. SCRgroup is one of the leading Australian companies helping divert clothes from landfill, so we caught up with national executive Alexis Todorovski to find out more.
What does your company do and how is it green?
SCRgroup collects over 25 million kilograms of unwanted clothing items every year and finds new homes for them.
We are focused on maximising our social and environmental impact and…offer solutions to the local government, local and national shopping centres, schools, private organisations and charities.”
SCRgroup also funds a free school program to empower future generations with the knowledge to make more responsible and sustainable decisions around their clothing choices.
Clothing that is made from natural fibres will take significantly longer to biodegrade when sent to landfill. Up to 60% of clothing sent to landfill is made from a combination of natural fibres as well as nylon, acrylic and polyester which are all forms of plastic and may never break down.
As part of our commitment to diverting 100% of our collections from landfill, we are also continuously looking for new and innovative ways to keep clothing in the circular economy – a system where garments are circulated for as long as their maximum value is retained.”
Currently our process involves sorting our clothing and sending what is fit for wear to our charity partners, local and global communities that need them the most, and transforming the remaining clothing and textiles that are unfit for wear into rags and biofuel.
Recently we collaborated with our local and international partners to create upcycled tote bags from clothing that is unfit for wear and are also working on other innovative projects such as fibre to fibre recycling options.
What inspires you and your business to be green?
SCRgroup is a family-owned business, and it was founded by my father. He previously worked in the charity sector and was astounded by the amount of clothes that were sent to landfill simply because they were not fit for sale in the charity stores.
The clothes were still in good condition and could be worn or repurposed but didn't fit the criteria to be sold in charity stores.
This inspired him to find a solution and he travelled overseas and established networks and met with communities that would greatly benefit from receiving the second-hand clothing.
The benefits and impact motivate me and inspire me to keep going and continue to make a difference.”
Why is being green personally important to you?
I feel like I'm giving back because everything I'm doing, from keeping clothes out of landfill to working with charities and ADEs (Australian Disability Enterprises), has a positive social and environmental impact.
I personally love working on the school programs because I love inspiring the future generations to be green and make better decisions around their clothes and textile waste.
Could you describe one small step people could take towards being greener?
Keep your unwanted clothes in the circular economy. It's easy to do this and it can be fun and profitable as well.
There are so many small and easy ways to do this, from dropping off your unwanted clothes at one of SCRgroup's collection hubs, swapping your clothes with family or friends, mending minor repairs, selling them online or at a marketplace.
For anyone savvy with a sewing kit, you can [also] alter and upcycle your clothes with a few snips here and stiches there to transform them into something different and new.”
What is one resource that you think people should read, watch or consume to understand more about sustainability and going green?
It's hard to choose just one, so here are my top 3:
- Wrap is a UK based NFP (not-for-profit organisation) and it has plenty of resources and case studies about sustainability in all aspects – not just fashion and clothing.
- Fashion Revolution is a NFP global movement focused on conserving and restoring the environment as well as valuing the people who work in fashion over profit and growth. It was started after the terrible Rana Plaza disaster in 2013. I highly recommend subscribing to the magazine to stay up to date with the fashion industry.
- Re_Fashion is a French organisation tracking successful implementation of sustainable fashion strategies in the French market. It's great to see what other countries are doing and how we can also implement their strategies in Australia.
Want more info and tips for making greener choices? Check out the Finder Green homepage.
Image credits: Getty Images, Supplied (SCRgroup)