Steve Richardson

Steve Richardson

Steve Richardson

Speaker | Unless Collective

Steve is a strategic minded materials expert with a strong technical background and understanding of supply chain and product lifecycle, from fiber to finished product.

For the last 30 years, he has contributed to product and materials R&D in the bicycle, apparel, footwear, sunglass, and automotive industries. Steve has worked for leading brands including Patagonia, adidas, Tesla, Oakley, and Shimano.

Session Code: 6B

Track: Circular Economy

Session Name: Circular Economy

Session Time: Thursday, February 8, 2:00 – 3:30 PM

Presentation Title: Composting Textiles and Waste from Textile Based Products

Presentation Description: Textile waste is a huge problem for landfills and textile pollution is an even bigger issue for our Oceans and the natural environment. Textile waste comes from post-consumer products that are thrown away and from post-industrial “cutting” waste that can’t be upcycled into new products due to variations in size and shape. Many textile fibers including cotton, regenerated cellulose, hemp, wool, and linen are plant or animal based biodegradable materials that can be successfully composted for more efficient degradation. Unless Collective is a startup apparel brand with the mission to eliminate plastic pollution and has created apparel and footwear with 100% plant-based materials. Unless and our composting partner Agromin from Oxnard, CA have done large scale trials to prove that textile waste can be composted efficiently and safely to create healthy soil products. We found that it is possible to compost textile waste in industrial composting and that the dyes and chemicals applied to the textiles do not negatively impact the finished compost quality. Composting textile waste can help to create an authentic circular economy where textile-based products at the end of their lifecycle can be composted and used to grow the next generation of fiber raw materials using regenerative agriculture principles. Textiles are a good source of carbon for composters similar to wood chips or sawdust. If they can be considered an acceptable feedstock for composting it will help divert waste from landfills and generate new tipping fees for composters. This presentation will discuss the trial process, the conclusions from the trial, and the next steps needed in order to scale opportunities to compost textile waste safely and efficiently.