At Ventia, we aim to minimise our environmental impact and we're always trying to find new and innovative ways to create a healthier planet.  

Ventia has collaborated with Veolia to deliver an innovative solution for textile destruction using a recycling system that converts textiles to biofuel. The system was first trialed at six Ventia managed Clothing Store sites - CICKS Darwin, Townsville, Enoggera, RAAF Base Edinburgh, HMAS Cerberus and Bandiana and has now been rolled out nationally.  

Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel are required to return combat clothing for disposal to prevent access by unauthorised personnel. Historically a National Clothing Store employee would cut items into strips with scissors by hand. This manual process was both time-consuming and posed a safety risk, particularly when hand-cutting combat boots. The strips were then used as rags or taken to local animal shelters but unfortunately often ended up in landfill. 

The solution

Ventia collaborated with Veolia to find a solution that would divert the uniforms from landfill, ensure certainty of destruction and support Ventia's and ADF's sustainability targets. 

In the trial Veolia provided secure 600 litre and 240 litre tamper proof disposal bins at each clothing store. Once full, the Veolia sub-contracted Shred-X collected the bins and the uniforms were machine shredded, incinerated, and converted to biofuel. The biofuel is sent to a facility that uses it for electricity. 

Across the three-month trial, nearly 7 tonnes (6,894 kg) of combat uniform were diverted from landfill and converted to approximately 700 litres of biofuel. That is the equivalent of the fuel required for approx. 10 car trips from Albury to Canberra.  

Phillip McIntosh, Ventia's Efficiency and Improvement Program Manager says: "The environmental and sustainability benefits of this initiative support Defence's environmental and sustainability targets by diverting a significant volume of waste from landfill." 

The recycling solution has streamlined processes and reduced time in manual handling allowing our Clothing Stores to focus on customer service.

Team member collecting textiles to be recycled

Application across Australia 

The system has now been rolled out across all National Clothing Stores nationally. It has also been applied in other areas of our Defence business such as linen disposal in our Housekeeping Services for our Defence Based Services contract. 

When Hayley French, Ventia's National Service Delivery Manager for Domestic Services heard of the plans to upgrade beds on Defence sites, she looked into applying the system used at our National Clothing Stores. She applied for an 'Innovation to Defence' to have the new process formally approved and now all linen and long-term lost property items can be disposed of through the same system. RAAF Woomera has been the first base to utilise this disposal method, discarding a years' worth of redundant linen.

There is a big focus on sustainability for Ventia and Defence. It's a small contribution but will make a huge difference long-term.

April Taylor, Ventia's Domestic Services Coordinator at the RAAF base in Woomera said: "The whole process turned out to be very quick and simple, and it was a pleasure to work with all partners involved."