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30 Lessons Learned about Post-Consumer Textile Waste in India 

India is one of the largest producers, employers and consumers of fashion. But perhaps more surprisingly, India is also the second largest importer of post-consumer waste (yes, they import old clothing for recycling). This, combined with a  growing consumer market, creates textile waste and a“double burden” in the country. Despite this, there is no formal collection or sorting infrastructure for end-of-life textiles. Consequently, around 80% of textile waste is in landfills, polluting the earth and causing toxic gas emissions. On top of this, an estimated 1.5-4 million waste workers in India collect, repair, and resell used clothing. This large group of waste workers are often lower caste underprivileged groups, mostly women, with an average income of $1,50-$3,00 per day. 

The problem is huge, but so is the impact and business potential of turning textile waste into a valuable resource. For every 1,000 tons of textile waste handled, research suggests that twenty decent jobs can be created, with each ton of re-used fibre creating an additional seven jobs. Solving India’s textile waste problem has the potential to unlock an entirely new job market for waste workers! There is the potential of unlocking an entirely new job market for waste workers! 

But when we started to research post-consumer waste in India to be able to address these issues, it felt like a black box. No one could tell us where the waste was, what volumes there were, or who collected is. To get a clear picture of where value chain interventions were required, we got busy with extensive research, conducting over 50+ interviews with waste pickers, recyclers, collectors, upcyclers, craftswomen, innovators, government parties and more. These interviews were supplemented with on-the-ground visits to waste facilities throughout India together with our partner CAIF. Together with CAIF, we will build capacity and skills amongst waste workers and build successful circular enterprises to reclaim value from textile waste, creating dignified jobs with the support of the IKEA Foundation. 

At the same time, we’re building sorting centres with GIZ and Concordia Textiles and working with brands and manufacturers to create the demand for and supply of textile waste. We’re bringing in and commercialising solution providers like PurFi to 100% rejuvenate waste into new fibres. The collaboration with Concordia and Enviu is funded through the develoPPP programme that GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) implements on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Sharing is caring, and more is more impact.

It wouldn’t feel right if we kept all this knowledge we accumulated to ourselves. If we could do it alone, we wouldn’t dream big enough. We want to share it so that others who want to do something about post-consumer waste in India can start a couple of steps ahead from where we started. This is why we launched a series of articles sharing our learnings on collection, sorting, recycling and more. So, please, take a deep dive into textile waste in India!

So, what\’s next?

The chain is long, fragmented, and informal, and there are few good solutions for dirty and torn post-consumer textile waste. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible. At Enviu, we love a good challenge. 

We build businesses that create fundamental change. We leapfrog innovation and build on what is already there to challenge the status quo of each broken system. . Our work spans multiple industries, From driving the transition towards a zero-footprint maritime industry and closing the tap on plastic waste by making reuse the new norm to setting up a 0% loss food value chain and realising a fair and circular apparel production value chain. 

In short, we’ve set our sights on some of the world’s biggest problems and have some game-changing plans up our sleeves!  

Within our Reweave venture-building program, we’re building ventures focusing on sustainable production and creating value from waste. Recycling textile waste into new yarns and fabrics and producing without an environmental footprint to sort and collect textile waste. All with 100% respect for our employees.

Together with CAIF and the support of the Ikea Foundation, we’re creating new solutions to solve the textile waste problem in India. We’re currently looking at:

  • Implementing formal, streamlined methods of collecting textile waste in households 
  • Training waste workers to effectively sort waste

New use cases for old and dirty textiles. If you have an interesting suggestion comment or would like to be included in our approach, please contact siegfried@enviu.org

With GIZ and Concordia Textiles, we build the technology and infrastructure needed to build a lasting ecosystem. We’re currently looking at:

  • Rejuvenating cotton and denim waste with Purfi
  • Seeking other solution providers interested in sourcing various kinds of sorted waste
  • Waste management organisations who want to join forces to build in-house textile waste management verticals and train their workers 

The collaboration with Concordia and Enviu is funded through the develoPPP programme that GIZ implements on behalf of BMZ. If you’d like to join us, write to us at puttingwastetowork@enviu.org

1 thought on “30 Lessons Learned about Post-Consumer Textile Waste in India ”

  1. You should wash sheets following a week or after all week. Try not to inherit pets from coming greater than your bed. You should succession a shower at night before now going to nap. This is over and done together along also to save your body away from any dirt textile sourcing house the hours of daylight. Remove every share of makeup in the now laying it all over again on a cotton flat sheet. Try to wash them by using lukewarm water for getting rid of germs. Also, retrieve deliberately the instructions written on the subject of the label. Try not to eat or beverage by sitting higher than a cotton flat sheet. When you take occurring care of the bedsheets plus in recompense they will meet the expense of you subsequent to comfortable sealed sleep.

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