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         21 July 2022          Danny R.

Buzzword bingo: The Circular Economy.

BlockTexx is a whiz-kid in the Aussie startup world.

Their proprietary tech separates polyester and cellulose out of clothing for reuse.

Textile recycling is really tricky because there can be so many variations and combinations of materials like cotton, elastane, polyester, nylon and so on - so what they're able to do is pretty impressive.

On their website it says:

Our mission is to divert textiles and clothing away from landfill and accelerate the global textile recycling industry towards a sustainable future.

Love it. This stuff lights me up. Clever tech that separates out two specific and tricky materials - it's worthy of all the praise they're getting.

...but...

While I realise it's easy for someone like me to sit back and throw rocks at new ideas, there's something that all the praise seems to be casting a blind eye to.

The paragraph below is also from their website, referring specifically to the recovered polyester (PET):

The recovered PET is polymerised to create virgin-quality S.O.F.T. branded rPET plastic pellets and polyester fibre suitable for use in textiles, packaging, building products.

Did you spot that?

They're diverting textiles from landfill, putting it through this patented and probably very expensive process to separate it back out into raw material, so that it can be turned into... more textiles.

This is a similar thing I raised with the Return and Earn scheme in NSW that buys back plastic bottles from the public, so that they can be turned into plastic bottles again. Both schemes talk about contributing to the circular economy shift.

I truly believe it has the potential to do that and the tech in both cases is awesome, but calling it "circular" is misleading. It's just that last step - by making it available to the same industry that created it in the first place, they're just prolonging the problem without really solving it.

To be fair, BlockTexx's PET paragraph also mentions it's recovered plastic can be used for packaging and building products.

I'd love to see more collaboration across climate-tech sectors... Packaging is having its own revolution with the emergence of bio packaging - it really doesn't need more plastic thrown at it, recycled or not.

Building products like roads and park equipment are some of the best final resting places for plastic - building relationships with more "final destination" industries like that would be a game changer.

I'd also love to see companies like BlockTexx put their foot down to say their recovered materials should not re-enter the market as something that will need recovering again - just make it unavailable to the textile and packaging industries.

I'm on their side and fully support the tech - I'd just REALLLLY love to see more solid climate commitment. Feels like they're just shy of reaching their full potential.

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