The Project

With Australian state government funding support from Sustainability Victoria, Deakin University’s Institute for Frontier Materials (IFM) has developed a method to effectively recycle colour pigments from textile waste. The project builds on our concept which received the H&M Foundation Global Change Award in 2017.

This simple but powerful approach addresses the huge challenges of recycling textiles due to complexities of different colours, fibres and blends. The outcome of this research enables us to produce micropigments from textiles segregated by colour for a range of applications including pigments for printing/colouring textiles, vegan leather, and for the creation of art. To explore the application of our discovery we approached Designmind, Deakin Universities, International Design and Innovation Platform to facilitate introductions with potential aligned researchers within the university.

This initiative received further support from the Deakin Science and Society Network. This led to the birth of the Perpetual Pigments project which formed from a relationship between IFM and design research academics from Deakins’ School of Communication and Creative Arts (SCCA).
Framed within a Circular economy paradigm, the primary aim of this project was to produce pigments using green pre-processing and milling technology using minimum energy, time and resources.

IFM researchers were able to engineer particles with microparticles while retaining the colour of the waste textile. Pigments are produced in both dry and wet grinding approaches. The size, shape and cohesion of particles are further refined to allow printing of defined designs, maintain uniformity of colour and suitability for screen, spray and brush painting applications. Textile Recyclers Australia is the lead Industry partner of the project.

Australian Brand Rip Curl kindly agreed to participate as an Industry partner to test the outcomes of our research. Rip Curl worked with Gamilaroi artist, Elly Chatfield to produce a range of T-shirt designs, screen printed with the IFM developed recycled pigments. Other eminent First Nation artists were also invited as part of the Perpetual Pigments phase of the research which involved the creation of paintings using the IFM pigments. The artists were asked to produce works in response to the theme of Sustainable Colour, Continuous Culture. All artworks are on display at this wonderful exhibition.

Rangam Rajkhowa – Associate Professor, Institute for Frontier Materials, Deakin University