Introducing, Sam Coulton, founder of Goondiwindi Cotton and first to feature in our Men In Style series.
Our founder Sam Coulton is the face of a ground-breaking trial that launched this week, testing whether shredded cotton products could offer benefits to soil health, and a scalable solution to textile waste. The project, under the guidance of circular economy specialists Coreo, is a partnership between the Queensland Government, Goondiwindi Cotton, Sheridan, Cotton Australia, Worn Up and Cotton Research and Development Corporation funded soil scientist, Dr Oliver Knox.
Sam, can you tell us about the project…
Around two tonnes of cotton textiles, garments and end of life State Emergency Service coveralls have been processed at Worn Up in Sydney, transported to our farm in Goondiwindi and spread onto our fields in preparation for planting in October. It’s hoped the fabrics will break down in the soil, increase microbial activity, lock in carbon and provide cover to improve soil moisture.
The trial will look at the breakdown process at different application rates, and will assess effects on soil nutrition, respiration/CO2 and microbial biomass.
This project has been 18 months in the making.
Why is it so important?
Textile waste is a major problem for communities and supply chains globally, with the latest Australian estimate showing approximately 85% of apparel is sent to landfill at end of life.
In this day and age, manufacturers should take responsibility for the end of life of their product. For Goondiwindi Cotton, I believe we grow it here and we should be able to bury it here with positive environmental and economic impact for all communities.
Projections show 2,250kg of Carbon Dioxide equivalents (CO2 e) into the atmosphere will be mitigated through the breakdown of these garments in soil rather than landfill.
We hope the results will provide evidence for a large-scale circular solution for 100% cotton textile products in Australia, which are naturally biodegradable, renewable and recyclable.
Where to next for the project?
Following the initial trial, further testing is likely required on the impact of dyes and finishes on soils and other challenges like the removal of components that don’t break down such as buttons, zips and synthetic threads and tags.
The trial will be completed by cotton harvest in early 2022, with initial results expected shortly after. It’s expected the real benefits for cotton yield and long-term soil health may not be known for many years but it’s a step in the right direction.
Messages from Partner Organisations"Sheridan is committed to setting a new standard for textile waste reduction. We are proud to partner with Goondiwindi Cotton, Coreo, Worn Up, CRDC and Cotton Australia for this innovative trial which, if successful, has the potential to create a truly circular process and divert countless tonnes of pre-loved cotton product from landfill. Continuing our mission to be the change-agent for the homewares industry."
Paul Gould, Group General Manager, Sheridan
“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, their soils and the planet. It’s very exciting.”
Brooke Summers, Cotton Australia
Imagery shot by The Farmers Friend @the_farmers_friend