Focusing on steps towards sustainable textiles

This article summarizes the state of the art regarding textiles in selected European regions. It refers to the Interreg Europe funded CECI – Citizen Involvement in Circular Economy Implementation project and the CECI Circular Textiles thematic study, which was carried out in summer 2021. This is the third article of the series of four articles concerning textiles.

Authors: Marjut Villanen, Katerina Medkova, Johanna Snell & Maarit Virtanen

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CECI partner regions on their way towards circular textiles

According to the EU legislation, it is obligatory to separately collect textile waste from 1.1.2025. The CECI partner countries and regions are in different stages of implementing this obligation. Below the situation of Belgium, France, Spain, Czech Republic and Finland is elaborated.

In Flanders, one of the regions in Belgium, textile waste management is addressed on the regional level. A selective collection of textile waste has been obliged for households and companies through the VLAREMA regulations and the Implementation Plan for Household waste and comparable industrial waste. Flanders has two regional level regulations steering the collection of textile waste from households. Municipalities are obliged to offer a separate collection of textiles in recycling centres, as a door-to-door collection at least four times a year or at dedicated containers/ collection points. (CECI 2021.)

Mechelen’s new Circular Economy Action Plan is underway, and the textile sector is one of the focus areas. OVAM (Flemish Waste Agency) has started round table discussions and calculated local and global impacts of circular strategies of the textile sector to gain input for its new policy. Flanders aims to decrease the material footprint by 30 % by 2030, with the closing of resource loops and dematerialisation. (CECI 2021.)

Textile waste collection in France is managed by a private non-profit company Eco-organismes REP: Refashion. Its role is central in the industry’s ecosystem transforming it towards a circular economy. Waste prevention and end-of-life management of textile and footwear items are part of services provided by Refashion to various stakeholders in the private and public sectors. Under the national law, the Ministry of Environment and Water is obliged to register companies, which market clothes and shoes. Marseille is drafting a regional action plan on textile waste, which should become effective in 2022. (CECI 2021.)

The new waste law of Spain is expected to be approved at the end of 2021. It will include two measures considering textile waste. Municipalities are obliged to collect textile waste separately starting from 1.1.2025. Furthermore, extended producer responsibility (EPR) expands to cover textiles in 2024. (CECI 2021.)

In the Czech Republic, a new waste law came into force from 1.1.2021. The law includes the objectives of circular management for waste, and one of the goals is the mandatory sorting of textiles from 1.1.2025. The overall aim is to recycle 60% of municipal waste by 2030, and 65% by 2035. (CECI 2021.)

The amendment of the Finnish Waste Act took effect in July 2021, with the separate collection of textiles beginning in 2023. In Finland, the ban on landfilling organic waste has been in effect since 2016, so most of the textile waste have been directed to incineration for energy production. (CECI 2021.)