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What is Seamless?

Seamless is Australia's clothing product stewardship scheme. A stewardship approach recognises that the fashion and clothing brands who place clothes on the market are responsible for the entire life of that garment.

Seamless will enable the industry to do what no single organisation can do alone, which is to transform how we choose, enjoy and recycle clothing in Australia. It aims to make Australian fashion and clothing truly circular by 2030, and significantly reduce the 200,000 tonnes of clothing that currently goes to Australian landfill each year.

Why is Seamless needed?

Every year the Australian clothing industry manufactures and imports over 1.4 billion units of new clothing. That's equivalent to 56 items of clothing every year for every Australian, and most is made from non-renewable and environmentally problematic materials.

More than half of this clothing ends up in landfill in Australia, which amounts to 200,000 tonnes per year. The carbon footprint of clothing in Australia is estimated to be as much as 13 million tonnes per year. It’s also costing charities millions of dollars to sort through donations and dispose of unsaleable and unwearable items.

Systematic and transformational change is needed and this can only be achieved through industry collaboration across the entire clothing lifecycle.

How will Seamless work?

Seamless takes a stewardship approach, which recognises that the fashion and clothing brands who place clothes on the market are responsible for the entire life of that garment, from design through to recycling or sustainable disposal.

Seamless will initially be funded by a 4 cent per garment levy paid by ‘stewards’ who are the clothing brands who become members of the scheme. This contribution is reduced to 3 cents for every garment that meets the eco-modulation criteria. If 60% of the market by volume sign up to the scheme, a funding pool of $36 million will be raised per year to transform the industry. These funds will be invested in four priority areas:  

1. Circular design: incentivising clothing design that is more durable, repairable, sustainable and recyclable
2. Circular business models: fostering new models for reuse, repair, rental, and services that prolong clothing life
3. Closing the materials loop: expanding clothing collection and and sorting practices for effective reuse and recycling
4. Citizen behaviour change: encouraging changed practices around clothing acquisition, use, care, and disposal

The recommendation is to allocate 75% of total funds raised to collecting, sorting and recycling clothing. This includes research and development into new recycling technology to develop a national system at scale, in partnership with the recycling industry. 

Activities driven by Seamless, stakeholders and citizens are projected to divert 60% of end-of-life clothing from landfill by 2027, which equates to 120,000 tonnes.

Is Seamless operated by the Australian Fashion Council?

No. Seamless, is an independent, not for profit organisation registered as Clothing Stewardship Australia Ltd.

While the Seamless scheme design was created by a consortium led by the Australian Fashion Council with Charitable Recycling Australia, Queensland University of Technology, Sustainable Resource Use and WRAP UK, Seamless is not operated by the Australian Fashion Council.

Has Seamless launched?

The Seamless Scheme Design and Roadmap to Clothing Circularity were launched in June 2023 at an event attended by the Minister of Environment and Water, the Hon. Tanya Plibersek MP. Seamless commenced operations on 1 July 2024.

What are the current priorities for Seamless?

With the pooled investments raised from member contributions, the priorities for Seamless for the 12 months from 1 July 2024 are to:

  • Develop better practices, principles and methodologies for circular design with Seamless members and supporters
  • Further define the eco-modular criteria to incentivise brands that design garments with natural fibres and safe, recycled content
  • Benchmark current and emerging recycling technologies and sector capability, capacity and capital requirements for the most viable recycling practices in Australia
  • Work with members and supporters across the clothing value chain on a national collection, sorting and reprocessing program and a support payment scheme for accredited providers.
Who was responsible for establishing the Seamless organisation?

Clothing Stewardship Australia Ltd is known as Seamless. It was established by the Transition Advisory Group (TAG) with support and guidance from the Product Stewardship Centre of Excellence.

Members of the TAG include Seamless foundation members BIG W, David Jones, Cotton On, Lorna Jane, Rip Curl, R.M. Williams, the Sussan Group and THE ICONIC. Members also include the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) and clothing industry representatives A.BCH, bassike, the Future Fashion Agency and the Australian Fashion Council, as well as supply chain specialists, Charitable Recycling Australia and the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association.

The work of the TAG has been funded by the Seamless foundation members and the NSW EPA.

Who are the Seamless Board of Directors?

The Seamless Board of Directors has at least three, and no more than fifteen Directors. They comprise nominated representatives from each of the Seamless foundation members, a nominated representative from the Australian Fashion Council, at least two independent Directors that bring relevant specialist knowledge and skills across the clothing supply chain, at least one independent Director acting as Guardian of Nature, that brings relevant specialist knowledge and skills in relation to the natural world and the non-human species that inhabit it, and up to one independent Chair. The current Directors are: 

Independent Chair: Rosanna Iacono, The Growth Activists

Seamless foundation members:

  • Kate Bergin, David Jones Pty Ltd
  • Peter Bruce, Woolworths Group Limited trading as Big W
  • Peri-Jane Crosbie, Internet Services Australia 1 Pty Ltd trading as THE ICONIC
  • Anna Fowler, Lorna Jane Pty Ltd
  • Rebecca Hard, ARJ Group Holdings Pty Ltd
  • Angela Winkle, R.M. Williams Pty Ltd
  • Nichol Wylie, Rip Curl Pty Ltd
  • Michelle Pacey, Cotton On Australia Ltd

Australian Fashion Council Representative: Marianne Perkovic, Australian Fashion Council Chair 

Independent Director: Matt Davis, Salvos Stores CEO

Is it mandatory for fashion and clothing brands to join Seamless?

Seamless has been designed as a voluntary scheme, which was the condition of the government funding that the Consortium received to design the scheme. However, feedback from industry during the consultation process, as well as evidence from similar schemes around the world, builds a compelling case for the introduction of co-regulation as the scheme matures.

Who are the Seamless foundation members?

The foundation members of Seamless are some of Australia’s largest and most iconic and progressive clothing brands and retailers. They are BIG W, Cotton On, David Jones, Lorna Jane, Rip Curl, R.M. Williams, the Sussan Group and THE ICONIC.

How much interest has there been from clothing brands and retailers to join Seamless?

More than 60 clothing brands and retailers are members of Seamless, see the full list of members here.

Also, more than 80 industry leaders are supporters including industry associations, academic institutions, not for profits, technology suppliers and reuse and recycling operators, as well as federal, state and local government agencies. See the full list of supporters here.

Will Seamless make clothes more expensive?

Seamless will be funded by a levy on every item of clothing placed on the market in Australia, which will be paid by clothing brands and retailers who become members of the scheme. From 1 July 2024, this levy will be 4 cents per garment, and 3 cents for every garment that meets the eco-modulation criteria.

There are currently no plans to pass the levy on to consumers. Even if all participants did so, the number of garments placed on the Australian market each year is equivalent to 56 items for every Australian. So based on this figure, every Australian would pay just $2.24 in total in one year.

What makes this scheme different from other schemes such as Redcycle?

Seamless has been designed to focus on the entire clothing lifecycle, from how clothes are designed, through to how they are used and then reach the end of their useful life. Changing the way an industry works means everyone has to work together, from fibre growers to the clothing brands and retailers, the charity sector, recirculators, recyclers and all levels of government. That’s why we included stakeholders across the value chain in the co-design process and why the scheme will support and fund activities across the clothing lifecycle. Seamless will also focus on how we increase and improve clothing sorting and recycling infrastructure, including viable end markets, through a well-considered action plan and funding model.

Unlike Redcycle, Seamless is not a recycling service offered by a for profit private organisation. Seamless will be managed transparently by an independent not for profit organisation in collaboration with brands, retailers, the charity sector, recyclers, government agencies, academic institutions and many more.

Seamless will also scrutinise downstream processing and invest in research and development to ensure viable markets for used clothing. They will also foster and incentivise brands to design for durability, reuse and repair, and encourage consumers to rethink how they acquire, use, care and dispose of their clothing.

Has there been any reluctance from clothing brands and retailers to join Seamless?

The Hon. Tanya Plibersek, Minister for the Environment and Water for Australia has placed clothing textiles on the priority list for product stewardship.

Achieving clothing circularity will not be easy and will require change across the industry’s whole value chain. As such, a number of brands have chosen to take more time to consider how and when they will engage with Seamless. It is, however, very encouraging to see that more than 60 brands and retailers have already joined Seamless. See the full list of members here.

Now that Seamless has commenced operations, we're confident that the shared sense of momentum and excitement will incentivise greater participation and a more collaborative approach to tackling the environmental and social impact of the clothing industry in Australia.

How do I become a Seamless member or steward?

If your organisation is a fashion or clothing brand, we encourage you to register your interest to become a member of Seamless here.

We'll add you to our mailing list to ensure you receive the latest Seamless news and we’ll also get in touch with you directly with an update on your application.

Industry stakeholders including recyclers, reuse operators, technology suppliers, government agencies, professional services organisations and academics, are also encouraged to register to become supporters here.

What is clothing circularity?

The majority of the clothing industry in Australia follows a linear model, of take, make and dispose. Clothing circularity will be achieved when the clothing lifecycle becomes circular, and follows a reduce, reuse, recycle model.

A circular clothing industry in Australia is one where responsible stewardship and citizenship are embedded across the lifecycle from clothing design and production, through to consumption and recirculation.

Do other countries have clothing product stewardship schemes in place?

As part of the design process for the Australian scheme, the consortium drew insights from the approaches taken by twelve clothing stewardship schemes around the world.

The European Union is leading the charge through pushing for mandatory Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) policies for member states, as well as additional policy levers such as stricter regulation on sustainability communications and waste. There is one mandatory clothing product scheme in operation in France since 2007, and many in development at national or regional levels across Europe.

The United Kingdom has an industry and government co-led voluntary agreement in place, and both the United States of America and New Zealand have industry-led voluntary clothing stewardship schemes.

Many other countries including Hong Kong, Ghana, South Africa, India and the Netherlands provide diverse examples of how mechanisms and logics of clothing product stewardship are being used to harness industry power and agitate for change.

Do stewardship schemes already exist in Australia?

Australia has a number of product stewardship schemes already in operation. They include: Mobile Muster, an industry-led voluntary product stewardship scheme managed by the Australian Mobile Telecommunication Association (AMTA) which addresses mobile phone waste; Cartridges for Planet Ark, which is a national product stewardship scheme for printer cartridges; the Tyre Product Stewardship Scheme which promotes environmentally sustainable collection and recycling processes to develop viable local markets for tyre-derived products; and many other schemes for plastics and containers through to batteries and oil.

What is the initial eco-modulation criteria?

Responsible clothing brands and retailers that join Seamless pay a contribution on every garment placed on the Australian market. The scheme has commenced with a contribution of 4 cents for every new garment and 3 cents for each garment that meets the initial eco-modulation criteria.

Garments that meet the eco-modulation criteria are able to be more easily sorted and recycled under a single fibre stream.

From 1 July 2024 to 30 June 2025, garments that meet the eco-modulation criteria are those which have a primary material made from a mono-material or single fibre at a rate of at least 95%. For example, a 100% cotton shirt would meet the eco-modulation threshold even if the tag or thread was not cotton, if these elements made up less than 5% of the total garment. Similarly, an activewear garment made from 95% polyester with 5% elastane would also meet the criteria.

While still more readily recyclable, a garment made of a mix of cellulosic fibre (cotton, viscose), or synthetic fibre (polyester, nylon) would not meet the threshold, if one material did not make up 95% of the fibre.