Mersey schools rise to the ten-tonne textiles recycling and reuse challenge

A project aiming to cut the amount of clothes and textiles going to waste has recently celebrated a significant funding boost.

Toxteth-based education organisation Liverpool World Centre has received £18,000 from the Merseyside Recycling & Waste Authority (MRWA) and Veolia Community Fund to run waste prevention project the Ten Tonne Challenge.

The scheme – being delivered in partnership with environmental charity Faiths4Change – is engaging with local schools and universities via workshops, talks and surveys to raise awareness of and help reduce clothes and textiles waste.

An estimated 18,000 tonnes of textiles are discarded from households each year in the Liverpool City Region, a lot of which could still be used. It is this behaviour the project is hoping to change and itself will look to stop over ten tonnes of material from going to waste.

Pablo Guidi, Director at Liverpool World Centre, said: “The whole project will connect children and adults to environmental issues. The educational activities will highlight the life cycle of textiles, including the production and disposal of clothing, delivered through teacher training, assemblies and student workshops.”

Liverpool World Centre launched the project in December with a secondary schools Climate Conference which involved students identifying their own climate actions. Training workshops in textile waste management are being delivered to 35 schools, plus assemblies to schools who either haven’t engaged with environmental work or are in areas of low recycling performance. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Lockdown, several teacher training sessions have been successfully delivered digitally.

Pablo Guidi continued: “There has been an increased pupil participation in climate change activities. We think that by working with school councils we can encourage pupils to direct their actions in a positive way. The focus on raising awareness that all textiles can go for reuse or recycling will help give children a belief that the climate emergency can be tackled.”

The focus on raising awareness that all textiles can go for reuse or recycling will help give children a belief that the climate emergency can be tackled

Carl Beer, Chief Executive of MRWA, said: “Our research shows that there are high quantities of textiles – such as clothes, carpets, curtains – placed in recycling and household waste bins across kerbside collections in the Liverpool City Region. However, textiles shouldn’t go into bins. Instead, Recycling Centres, charities, local bring banks all accept clothes and textiles where they will go on to be recycled or reused.”

All schools involved are being encouraged to take part in a series of activities to showcase their learning about the textile journey, such as fundraising (through, Pop Up Boutiques, swap shops, technology (such as building scarecrows) and arts and crafts.

One student involved in the project is Grace Harrison, studying at Liverpool Hope University, who said: “I think that the 10 Tonne challenge is a great educational project, not only is it super fun for the children to get involved in but it is also vital environmentally changing information being passed onto the next generation. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time participating in the project, as not only have I learnt a lot but I’ve loved seeing young people engaged in the project.”

By the end of the project it is hoped that up to 60 schools will have engaged in waste education activities, 680 schools will have received a textiles and clothes waste fact sheet, and trainee teachers at two universities will have delivered sub-projects on waste and the environment.

Carl Beer of MRWA, continued: “Textiles waste is a big issue with a significant environmental impact – however, projects like the Ten Tonne Challenge can help have a real positive influence to see that waste reduced.”

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