A team of researchers from the University of New South Wales in Kensington, Australia has developed a process to create new building materials from old clothing fibers, Hannah Higgins of the Australian Associated Press reports.

As flat panels, the new materials can be coated with a wood or ceramic-style finish, and have “tested well” for strength, flexibility, load bearing capabilities and fire and water resistance.

With an estimated 92 million tons of clothing thrown out every year, the researchers say the findings have important implications for global efforts to reduce waste.

"It could be said that consumers and the fashion industry have a lot to answer for, given that clothing is now one of the biggest consumer waste streams," lead researcher Professor Veena Sahajwalla said in a statement on Wednesday.

"Rather than export our rubbish to create more landfill, green microfactory technology has the potential to enable small and large-scale creation of newly manufactured products instead."

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