How do you remanufacture blankets into new blankets?
When we collect your old Seljak Brand blanket, we send it to one of our mill partners for remanufacturing. The mills have ragging machines which shred factory floor offcuts and old blankets. This shredded resource is then combed out until the individual fibres are separated. The fibers are then prepared for spinning. The spinning machine effectively twists the fibres together to create yarn. As the fibre is twisted and spun, we use polyester for the short, shredded fibres to catch on to. The resulting yarn is then woven on a loom into the next Seljak Brand blanket. Voilà!
Will Seljak Brand ever really close the loop with these blankets? That is, I plan to have this blanket for a long time and can’t imagine I’ll be sending it back to the mill anytime soon.
By providing an end of life solution, Seljak Brand is taking the onus off you, the customer to responsibly dispose of your blanket. Some customers have had their blankets chewed by a pet, or others might decide they just don’t want their blanket anymore. We’re taking responsibility for what we’re putting on the planet and have created a viable solution for what will happen when you no longer want the blanket. Remanufacturing ensures the blanket will retain its value, eliminate the need to use new, raw resources and reduce waste to landfill.
Before providing an end-of-life solution, designing a product that doesn’t age in the eye of the customer and lasts a lifetime is the most sustainable way to make goods. Seljak Brand blankets have been made in mills that have been manufacturing for decades. The quality is paramount to the integrity of the product, so we believe you can have your Seljak blanket for life if you take care of it.
Fixing and repairing is also important ahead of remanufacturing. Only when the blanket has been repaired within an inch of its life is when it should go back to the mill for manufacturing. This is when we will close the loop by shredding the blanket to spin new yarn and weave more blankets.
Given some of Seljak Brand’s customers are businesses where the blanket gets used and washed consistently and therefore worn quickly, for example a hotel, there is the probability we’ll close the loop a lot earlier. For example, a hotel may purchase a bunch of Seljak Brand blankets and they may want to refresh the texture and even colour or style after a few years. In this situation we’d be able to deliver new blankets made out of their old ones.
Why are your blankets not cheaper given you use waste as the material source?
The largest part of the cost of manufacturing blankets goes to labour costs. Because we manufacture in Australia and Europe, labour costs are higher than other parts of the world. We believe in a fair and just supply chain and are happy to contribute to decent wages for workers making our product. The price also includes compostable packaging, the cost of shipping to anywhere in Australia, a donation to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre and return shipping when you no longer want your blanket.
Why do you manufacture overseas now?
We are actually producing blankets in Geelong, Victoria, as well as in Lithuania in Europe. Unfortunately our mill partner in Tasmania, which was our launching mill, has been on pause for refurbishments this year but we hope to manufacture there again in the future.
Currently most of our blankets are produced in Lithuania, where we’ve been making our Design range for two years (and our Colour range as of mid-2021), with a mill partner that makes high quality fabrics and uses machinery we can't access in Australia.
The nature of using waste as a resource, the very small and sometimes struggling manufacturing industry in Australia, and Covid disruptions, means we’ve had to survive by developing a global supply chain, like most other businesses.
We’re very passionate about manufacturing in Australia and are always looking for opportunities to support the textiles industry onshore.
Is your compostable packaging suitable for a home compost?
We use Better Packaging mailer bags to send blankets to customers. You can compost these mailer bags in your home compost.
First, strip off the seal and any plastic tape that may be found on the bag (we use compostable shipping labels but you never know what’s added to the bag as the package makes its way through the logistical system!). Then, cut up the bag into smaller strips that will be more easily digestible by your home compost, and throw it in with the rest of the food scraps.
Here’s more information from Better Packaging if you want to start a compost or find one near you!