Skip to content

Chapter 2: How is textile waste collected?

We now know what the waste looks like, but what happens next? We were keen to learn where  post-consumer textile waste ended up. To research this we spoke with different actors within the chain: Consumers, dry waste collectors, at home collectors and NGO’s. Here’s what we a learnt during these interviews:

  1. India has no formal collection system: The collection of clothes is fragmented. Clothes end up on the street, in landfills or in dry household waste collection. The collectors can be “chindi-walla’s” who pick-up waste from landfills or dry-waste collectors. The lack of formal collection is one of the main reasons why clothing does not end up at recyclers and why recyclers import post-consumer waste from other countries.
  2. Few clothes are collected separately: There are some brands with take-back schemes, or initiatives like Shareatyourdoorstep that pick up textiles at your door. These initiatives are growing, but still represent but a small piece of the pie.
  3. Lack of collaboration: Brands and e-commerce players don’t collaborate enough to ensure either proposer collection or reverse logistic systems for clothing.
  4. Corruption, cash & no transparency: Dry-waste collection is an informal cash in hand business that sometimes even creates a corrupt “waste-maffia”. As a result there is little transparency of the middle-man in the collection system.
  5. A Long chain of collectors drives up the price: Once clothes are collected at the household, they go through a long chain of collectors, aggregators and sorting centres before they reach the recycler. This increases the cost of the textile waste. However this long chain is not always bad – as textiles get out for further reuse/repair.
  6. Business textile waste often doesn’t get collected: Textile waste of hotels, restaurants and other hospitality players usually doesn\’t get properly collected. If it does, it’s often sold to aggregators, and ends up as low-cost filling for the automotive industry.

Innovator highlight: Share At Your Doorstep

Share At Door Step is an Indian innovator that organises scheduled home pick-ups for clothes & other items, donating what they recieve to charity. Customers can schedule a pick-up location and time, paying a small fee for each pickup. After Share at your Doorstep has offered the items to a range of charities, anything lacking in quality is sent off for recycling.


How we plan to solve it

Together with our partner CAIF, we are looking to set-up collection “pilots” in Mumbai and Bangalore. We are looking at setting up two pilots:

  • Collection at households: Partnering with waste workers in Mumbai to set-up scheduled pick-ups for textile waste at households. 
  • Collection at hospitality: Partnering with hotels, to arrange the pick-up of their textile waste, to send for recycling

These pilots are still being shaped and are planned to go to market in May. If you have any contacts at hotels for the collection of hospitality textile waste, please contact us at

With GIZ and Concordia Textiles, we have set up a high-volume textile waste sorting centre in Chennai where we are training an all-woman team to become experts in sorting and processing various kinds of waste to meet the needs of various solution providers. The collaboration with Concordia and Enviu is funded through the develoPPP programme that GIZ implements on behalf of BMZ. Read more about what we’re doing here.

→ Return to  the overview

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *