From my initial experimentation I was keen to see how existing recycling systems work, and what waste arises from them. I approached a number of recycling services, and conducted three site visits.

My first was to the Moonee Ponds waste transfer station. Here I was shown how residents can come and dump their waste into sorted areas, from glass, metal, wood, ewaste, oil etc. These seperate streams are then passed onto specific recyclers for reprocessing. Via this process, a large percentage of the waste is able to be re-used. While interesting I decided to focus in on textile/clothing recyclers.

My second visit was to the Brotherhood of St Laurence clothing sorting facility in Brunswick. The set up is housed in a large warehouse. As well as the clothing sorting, I was shown around the range of social enterprises run through the complex. These business streams, assist in contributing towards BSL‘s vision of a poverty free Australia. They provide training and employment for job seekers, affordable goods and services (from recycled clothing, fridges and books, to low cost eye wear and insulation) for people on low incomes, and an income stream for BSL. These business streams are contributing more back into society then just a purely economic gain.

Nilgun showed me how the clothing donations arrive, get sorted and then are packed off to BSL stores. The donations get sorted into different grades depending on condition, style, sex etc. The items that were too worn to be saleable, were packed off to be turned into industrial rags. (I found this interesting as I actually use these rags through work as a furniture polisher)

However one waste stream stood out. Stuffed toys. These arrive at sorting centre, and supply is much larger then the demand. These toys provided the inspiration for the Design Suggestion #1. Thanks to Nilgun and the team for showing me around.

My third visit was to FM Recycling. FM Recycling is a large scale commercial operation, sorting charity donations from across Victoria. I was shown around the set up, much larger then BSL. At FM Recycling, they process donations in the tonnes, similar systems to BSL, but more industrialised. Think conveyer belts of clothes, big bales moved by forklifts. They too sent worn items for industrial rags. Synthetic materials proved to be a growing problem, as they weren’t appropriate for ragging, and were difficult to be reused.

There was one waste stream that caught my attention. Old suit jackets and winter coats. Your typical old man jacket. There is not the demand,mainly due to the outdated style, and the climate not being cold enough for long enough. This stream formed the inspiration for the Design Suggestion #2. Thanks to FM Recycling for their support.