Clothing businesses call on Government to regulate textile waste

A group of clothing and textile businesses is calling on the Government to better regulate waste in their own industry.

More than 220,000 tonnes of textiles end up in our landfills annually - that's about 44kg of waste per person every year.

While consumers can play a vital role in reducing clothing waste, businesses have power too. 

But they want help to supercharge their efforts.

More than 200 retailers and organisations have delivered a six-part plan to the Government to tackle the climate impacts of textiles.

They want investment in recycling, tax subsidies to encourage the re-use of material, and for textiles to eventually be completely banned from landfills. 

Commercial garment giant Alsco buys 250 tonnes of uniforms and linen every year.

"We've got regulations about all sorts of things, nothing about textile waste in New Zealand,'' Alsco's business and product manager Gavin Smith says.

"At the end of their life we can give a few away to charity and we can sell a few but the vast majority of our tonnage ends up in landfill."

When in landfill, textiles release up to three times their weight in greenhouse gases when decomposing.   

"It's a huge problem but it kind of runs under the radar," Usedfully's creative director Bernadette Casey tells Newshub. 

"It's up there with agriculture and oil as sort of the top three industries that have the most environmental impacts."

Environment Minister David Parker says the Government has committed some funding towards textile reuse, but has no specific plans to impose regulations. 

He added officials are yet to read the industry's recommendations. 

"We've got a really willing industry that's wanting to front foot it," Casey says.

But it seems the Government isn't ready to join them.