2024 Women of the Year Awards: Community builder – Runner-up Amelia Eleiter

Amelia Eleiter, co-founder and CEO of Debrand, is a runner-up of the Community Builder category of the 2024 Women of the Year Awards


Amelia Eleiter
Co-founder and CEO, Debrand

In Vancouver, major textile brands like Lululemon and Aritzia have followed the lead of Amelia Eleiter, CEO and co-founder of Debrand, to prevent millions of pounds of textile waste from ending up in landfills.

Debrand offers a solution to garment waste: it specializes in sorting apparel and footwear for its next best use, be it resale, donation, repair, recycling or responsible disposal.“Textiles and apparel are the largest growing waste stream in our landfills,” Eleiter says. “We’re trying to ensure that brands recognize there’s a cost associated with their waste.”

A UBC human kinetics grad, Eleiter got her start with a marketing agency, where promotional events for clients made her aware of the waste generated by brands.

Eleiter and business partner Wes Baker founded Debrand and developed technology to assess the condition and components of textiles. A conveyer system at the company’s Surrey headquarters sorts the product, readying it for resale or reuse—the clients get to choose what comes next, based on Debrand’s assessment and recommendations.

Her advocacy includes working with companies, climate activists, waste professionals and community members to give everyone a role in decreasing fabric’s harmful footprint.

In February, she travelled to California to lobby for changes to a producer responsibility bill. Not only will the legislation affect Debrand’s clients with operations in California, regulations in Canada also often follow suit once they’re established down south.

“It’s going to have a massive impact on Canada and that is why we’re part of those conversations,” Eleiter explains. At present, there is no monetary value in recycled material that comes from textile waste.

Eleiter predicts garment-recycling options are five to 10 years out. In the meantime, Debrand has built the infrastructure and network to offer a world-leading solution to sort and send textiles to their next-best use when the time comes.