Does your ECEC service offer branded uniform? Have you thought about sustainability?

Does your ECEC service offer branded uniform? Have you thought about sustainability?

by Freya Lucas

January 27, 2022

Many early childhood education and care (ECEC) providers offer families branded uniform pieces on enrolment. A tee shirt, hat, backpack and other materials are often included as part of a welcome package, while some services on school sites may have specific uniforms that children must wear. 


Many of those pieces, sadly, end up in landfill, either because they are no longer needed by the family, or because they become damaged, stained or unusable. One Sydney program is aiming to give a second life to old uniforms by recycling them and turning them into new useful items like school desks, stools and acoustic tiles from a global first composite called FABtec. 


The Worn Up Textile Rescue Program now has the support of the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) thanks to a $100,000 grant from the EPA’s Circulate program to fund its program and increase outreach to rural schools and big businesses.


While not specifically seeking connections with the ECEC sector, the initiative is a natural fit for those services who find themselves with a surplus of unsuitable uniforms, and who are looking for a way to further increase sustainability. 


Worn Up’s pioneering textile recycling program aims to keep 100 tonnes of used uniforms and textiles out of landfill nationally. EPA Organics Manager Amanda Kane said programs like Worn Up are critical with more than 300,000 tonnes of textiles discarded in NSW each year and almost 240,000 tonnes are being dumped in landfill annually.


“Worn Up is helping divert reusable textiles from landfill, while creating jobs in the circular economy, and reducing emissions,” Ms Kane said.


“Polyester and organic textiles are wasted in landfill and create greenhouse gas emissions. And on average, each Australian discards at least 23 kilograms of textiles a year.”


Seven Sydney metropolitan councils have come on board, along with one regional council and 66 schools. Businesses joining the Program include Toby’s Estate, Suntory Coffee, Lowes, IKEA, Glassons and many others nationally.


More information on Worn Up is available here