The European Recycling Industries’ Confederation (EuRIC) has published guidance on best practice for those sorting and collecting textile waste, in order to maximise recycling and re-use.
The guidance has been published following the EU introduction of mandatory separate textile collections for local authorities, under the 2018 Circular Economy Package, of which the UK is a signatory. This means that, by 2025, separate collections will also be instigated here.
Clothing in use in the UK accounts for 26.2Mt CO2e of our carbon footprint and has a water footprint of 8 billion m3 on a consumption basis, with the greatest impact coming from fibre production. This is coupled with the fact that consumption is invariably rising - the purchase of clothing in the UK rose by almost 20% between 2012 and 2016.
The new guidance by EuRIC covers the processes for successful textile collections and sorting. This includes recommendations for preventing damage and contamination of post-consumer textile waste and the training of personnel.
Uniform and clear specifications
Mariska Zandvliet, EuRIC’s Textiles president, has said “At EuRIC Textiles, we feel it is important to have uniform and clear specifications describing how used textiles should be handled to achieve the highest possible percentage of re-use and recycling."
"With the expected increase of used textiles to be collected after 2025, it must remain our top priority to minimize quality loss throughout the sorting process and maximize possibilities to re-use and recycle."
"Our specifications, prepared by leading industry professionals, ensure that the quality in collected textiles is retained and describe a sorting process for sustainable re-use and recycling. Thus, serving as reliable source for the entire industry facilitating circularity in textiles."
Government interventions on the horizon
Textile waste is increasingly becoming an issue needing environmental intervention, with government promising to consult on regulatory options in the 2018 Resources and Waste Strategy. Furthermore, this year’s consultation surrounding an updated Waste Prevention Programme gives an insight into current policy thinking.
Proposed interventions included a government promises to galvanise ambitious industry action through a new voluntary agreement Textiles 2030, develop proposals for Extended Producer Responsibility in the future, and encourage industry to set effective standards on resource efficient product design.