Cotton industry looks to use waste for soil health


A trial project in southern Queensland could help markedly improve sustainability and cut waste within the cotton industry. The project, to be trialled at a farm at Goondiwindi, will look at seeing whether cotton textile waste can be broken down and used as a soil ameliorant and a means to limit carbon emissions. Project leaders are hoping the fabric will break down in the soil, increase microbial activity, lock in carbon and provide cover to improve soil moisture.

Predictions show the potential for 2.25 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2 e) into the atmosphere will be mitigated through the breakdown of the two tonnes of garments used in the trial in soil, rather than going to landfill. The trial is being run under the guidance of circular economy specialists Coreo, and is a partnership between the Queensland Government, Goondiwindi Cotton, Sheridan, Cotton Australia, Worn Up and Cotton Research and Development Corporation-supported soil scientist Oliver Knox of the University of New England.

The industry is hopeful that the trial could start a mutually beneficial system where material that is otherwise destined for landfill could help boost on-farm productivity. “Returning cotton garments to the farms on which they began would completely close the loop on a cotton product, providing a win for brands, retailers and consumers looking for circular solutions, and a possible benefit to our farmers and their soils,” said Brooke Summers from Cotton Australia. Textile waste is a major problem for communities and supply chains globally, with the latest Australian estimate showing approximately 85 per cent of apparel is sent to landfill at end of life.

Source: Farm Online




Author: Kirsi Seppänen