Vinnies cleaning up with recycling rag bags

Ultimate recycling: St Vincent de Paul volunteer Geoff Garard with a Bag O Rags available from the Gordon Street shop. Photo: Peter Daniels
Ultimate recycling: St Vincent de Paul volunteer Geoff Garard with a Bag O Rags available from the Gordon Street shop. Photo: Peter Daniels

There is no such thing as waste.

St Vincent de Paul Society is recycling rags made from donated clothing and on-selling them to business across the North Coast.

Marketed as Vinnies Bag O Rags, they are also an important fundraising source for St Vincent de Paul Society, which processes and packs huge quantities of them in its clothing recycling centre in Goonellabah. 

The 1600-square metre centre is named after Matthew Talbot, a 19th century Dublin ascetic who is an inspiration for ex-alcoholics worldwide. 

Vinnies recycling and waste manager Angelo Grande saiud the centre handles one-fifth of the state's total clothing donations.

“We’re the largest such facility in regional NSW," he said.

"While the pick of the donations are sold in Vinnies bargain shops, including in the Port Macquarie-Hastings, the lesser quality wearables are exported and the remainder turned into usable rags.

“It’s the ultimate recycling operation. The recycling includes blade-shredding the rags for compacting into packs weighing from 5kg up to 200kg pallets.

"Materials are mixed cotton, flannelette, cotton t-shirt and the top of the range, white cotton, that retails for $16 per 5kg pack."

Artists from Southern Cross University's art department are big fans of the rags using the pure cotton on easily damaged copper plates as well as cutting up rags, wetting and beating them into pulp, and making special paper that students use in their printmaking.

"Who would have thought cast-off t-shirts could have such an after-life?" Mr Grande said.

Vinnies Bag O Rags are available from St Vincent de Paul's op-shop on Gordon Street.

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