Opinion

Uniforms destined to fuel use not landfill

A collaboration between Veolia, the Department of Defence and Ventia, means that military uniforms that have reached their use by date will no longer be destined for landfill but will instead be used as an alternate fuel source.

Veolia is Defence’s national base service contractor for waste, sustainably managing over 50 waste and recycling streams. This shift away from disposal towards reuse will contribute to Australia’s decarbonisation targets and help reduce the impacts of climate change. Importantly, it will also meet Defence’s strict protocols around the safe destruction of its uniforms.

Aligning with Defence’s industry leading environmental targets, uniforms that cannot be reused in other ways will be transferred to a resource-recovery facility in South Australia. The facility will then reprocess the old uniforms as an alternate fuel source for a kiln that manufactures cement, reducing its reliance on fossil fuels.

The state-of-the-art operation is capable of extracting maximum value from materials otherwise destined for landfill, driving the circular economy.

Veolia’s chief operating officer for waste, Tony Roderick, said the company’s collaboration with Ventia and Defence was a reflection of the company’s commitment to driving ecological transformation.

“Australians send over 15 tonnes of textile waste to landfill every 10 minutes in a highly unsustainable practice that needs to change,” Roderick said. “Where textiles cannot first be reused or recycled, as is the case for Defence’s highly secure uniforms, the next most sustainable option is to recover energy from them. This shift in practice will reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help to reduce the impacts of climate change in what is a great illustration of the circular economy at work.”

Ventia’s retail services regional contract manager for Defence in Victoria/Tasmania, Craig Patterson, said working with Veolia and Defence on this initiative was a natural progression from its existing role operating Defence’s clothing stores and managing uniform disposal more generally.

“ The environmental challenges we face today require a collaborative approach,” he said. “Working closely with Veolia and the Department of Defence, we have demonstrated that working together on innovative solutions is attainable for the most complex of waste challenges. Diverting these old uniforms from landfill is a huge result, the benefits of which will be realised for years to come.”

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