Seamless initiative launches garment levy to drive circular fashion

By Ashmeeta Subra  July 4th, 2024

The Seamless initiative has come into effect starting this month, with over 60 members now committed to the new garment levy aimed at promoting circular fashion.

The Seamless Clothing Stewardship Scheme was established by the Australian Fashion Council (AFC)  in collaboration with industry pioneers as part of efforts to create a circular clothing industry by 2023. The scheme hopes to tackle a pressing issue in the fashion industry – the staggering 200,000 tonnes of clothing waste sent to landfills in Australia annually (the equivalent weight of almost four Sydney Harbour Bridges).  

The initiative compels brands to assume responsibility for their products from inception through to end-of-life by establishing processes for recycling or sustainable disposal and charging the brands a fee for them. Over 60 major brands, including Big W, Ceres, Cotton On Group, David Jones and The Iconic, have embraced this initiative aimed at revolutionising the lifecycle management of garments and driving a national transition towards a circular fashion economy.  

The initial phase of the initiative, spanning from June 2023 to June 2024, served as a transition period dedicated to onboarding Seamless foundation members and recruiting future stewards (business who either owns a brand or has an executive relationship with a brand) and supporters.  

The next phase, which started this July, involves members of the scheme: 

  • Contributing $0.04 for each new garment placed on the Australian market. 

  • Contributing $0.03 for each garment manufactured with an agreed composition which drives use of more sustainable materials. 

  • Displaying the Seamless logo and communicating their commitment to circularity. 

  • Beginning implementation of circularity pilot programs, including end-of-life product take-backs, circular design, repair and reuse solutions. 

The funds will support initiatives outlined in the Seamless Scheme Design Summary, focusing on designing durable, repairable, and recyclable clothing and fostering new business models centred on such pilot programs. The initiative also aims to empower consumers to make informed choices about clothing consumption and disposal by showing the businesses who are taking responsibility for their products’ end-of-life.  

When asked if the levy amount will change moving forwards, Seamless CEO Ainsley Simpson said it is a fair and reasonable place to start.   

“The initial levy was determined using an evidence-based economic model, global benchmarking and wide industry consultation,” Simpson said.   

Looking ahead, Seamless anticipates further industry support and potential regulatory measures, echoing Minister Plibersek’s earlier statement that regulation may be necessary if voluntary participation proves insufficient in meeting sustainability goals. 

A clothing stewardship program means clothing brands take responsibility for the collection, recycling and disposal of their products at their end-of-life - shifting this responsibility from the consumer back onto the producer. As consumers, we can play our part by being mindful of our purchases, buying second-hand, repairing and reusing our clothing pieces and being conscious of what we do with our garments once no longer in use.   

Learn more about other product stewardship schemes across Australia by visiting  Recycling Near You

Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.

Ashmeeta Subra

With background in international relations and marketing communications, Ashmeeta is excited to use her skills to encourage positive environmental actions through Planet Ark. She believes that by taking small actions, we can help make a big difference and be good stewards of our planet. Outside of work, she loves spending time in nature and enjoying downtime at the beach.

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