AUSTRALIAN DISABILITY ENTERPRISES TO UPCYCLE UN-USED HOSPITAL CURTAINS
TO MAKE PPE ISOLATION GOWNS
Alison Jose, Circular Centre's Director was asked by a War on Waste fan working at a Sydney hospital "if I had any ideas on how to re-use boxes of unwanted brand-new hospital curtains that also have antimicrobial properties.
I saw it as the missing piece of a puzzle for a new circular economy project; collecting textile waste to answer the call-out by NSW Health to make Isolation Gowns in Australia plus create jobs for experienced disability enterprises.
Hospital curtains are made from high-quality polyester fabric using specialist antimicrobial and sporicidal technology so to upcycle this into re-wearable Personal Protective Equipment during a pandemic is ideal. Even builders or mould specialists dealing with mould, fungus and spores can wear them replacing some single-use gowns.
This Circular PPE initiative follows circular economy principals as defined by Cradle to Cradle® to “change from just doing "less bad" (eco-efficiency) to doing "more good" (eco-effectiveness) and ensure that used resources can be reused as starting materials for new, non-toxic products.”
This circular supply chain design will divert textile waste from landfill, re-use the fabric to make re-usable Isolation Gowns, minimise and capture the plastic microfibres that are shed from all polyester fabrics when washed by selling alongside a Guppyfriend Washing Bag.
Once finished with, customers can return the Gowns to “close the loop” so the textiles are repurposed into “new” products like carpet, underlay, mattresses, sound proofing and other high value products for various industries as part of our Circular Textile Waste Service.
Our goal is to divert and re-use some of the 679,000 tonnes of textile waste that ends up in landfill adding to our pollution and carbon problems. It’s equally important to ensure that plastic fabrics are not recycled back into everyday clothing that will continue to shed more plastic microfibres into our waterways and oceans.
...... See detailed Poster below.
The other key aim for the Waste Service is to create onshore circular industry employment opportunities for Disability Enterprises.
Alison was introduced to the experienced textiles team at Wangarang Industries Ltd, an Australian Disability Enterprise in the regional NSW city of Orange by Simon Scrase, the Program Development Manager at NDS BuyAbility, whose role is to secure contract opportunities for Disability Enterprises across Australia providing supported employment assistance to approximately 20,000 people with moderate to severe disability.
Wangarang can make up to 200 gowns a week. Customers can purchase Gowns made from two fabrics:
1. Polyester from deadstock rolls, banners & un-used hospital curtains or
2. 100% recycled cotton sheets laundered by a local industrial laundry.
PHOTO L-R Tiffany Cridland, Jill Vant-Sand, Donna Holland, and Fiona Fisher pose in the various Isolation Gowns being made by the textile team at Wangarang in Orange NSW.
This connection with Wangarang was a happy coincidence given that Alison's sister Donna also works at Wangarang.
“Donna has enjoyed working there for 16 years now, so I know first-hand how important it is to create work opportunities, especially in regional areas, that provide supported employment plus offer fantastic social and community networks that go along with it.”
All corporate customers will also receive a framed “thank you” photograph of the Wangarang team to hang in the staff room to show those wearing our unique Isolation Gowns the people who made them, plus learn how textile waste can be a valuable circular resource and to help foster positive initiatives that support the environment.