Egypt: Two new textile industry pilots to demonstrate improvements for recycling pre-consumer textile waste

UNIDO, together with industries from the textile and clothing value chain, are launching two pilot projects to evaluate opportunities for investments in better textile recycling technologies and to improve the value and quality of post-industrial waste available for recycling in Egypt.

Published on Wednesday 01 June 2022· INDUSTRY AND SERVICE PROVIDERS

On 26 May, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) presented, during a launching event in Cairo, two pilot projects that under the EU-funded SwitchMed/MED TEST III project will demonstrate processes until 2023, technologies and management standards that can improve the handling and recycling of pre-consumer textile waste in Egypt.

What used to be considered a cost for businesses, textile waste today plays an increasingly important role as a resource for international brands in their global supply chain.

Early 2022, a SwitchMed waste-mapping study, undertaken by Blumine & Reverse Resources, revealed that Egypt’s textile and clothing industry generates approximately 212,000 tons of pre-consumer post-industrial textile waste per year. This waste is generated from the production of textiles and garments and consist of cutting scraps, second quality products, spillage, and other textile wastes.

“At the moment the market for recycled fibres is a niche, but it is a market with a huge potential. A report states that in 2027 the amount of recycled fibres used in the production will almost double compared to 2020,” says Marco Ricchetti, CEO of Blumine. “What is interesting is that this growth is not limited by demand, it is limited by the availability as there are not enough recycling capacities around the world.”

Textile-to textile recycling facilities are already under operation in Egypt, but they often rely on imported textile waste as an input, primarily due to quality issues of the local feedstock. Valorizing some of Egypt’s ‘valuable’ pre-consumer textile waste could help reduce Egypt’s dependency on imported short-fibre cotton as this type of textile waste has a very high recycling potential and is estimated to make up 50% of the annual pre-consumer textile waste generated in Egypt’s industry.

Based on the waste mapping study findings, two industrial pilots have been identified to demonstrate the different steps and business models for valorizing pre-consumer textile waste in Egypt.

In the first pilot, UNIDO together with international experts will evaluate the technological options for investing in best-available technologies, assessing both mechanical and chemical recycling technologies, to increase the recycling capacities of pre-consumer textile waste in the country. The aim is to develop a roadmap on investments and policy actions that can up-scale textile recycling in the country.

To address the insufficient availability and categorization of pre-consumer textile waste in Egypt, the second SwitchMed pilot will gather a ‘network’ of waste generators (industries) to establish a common waste collection that can improve the quality, value and traceability of pre-consumer textile waste in Egypt. The objective will also be to improve the feedstock of locally generate pre-consumer textile waste and to demonstrate business opportunities to actors along the textile waste value chain.

Outcomes from the two industry demonstration projects will be used in developing a roadmap for Egypt that can further the uptake of recycling standards for pre-consumer textile waste and develop the capacities in Egypt to provide recycled textile fibres for the domestic and global market.

The roadmap intends to support authorities, industry federations, and actors in Egypt’s textile and clothing value chain on how to remove obstacles that impede a practical, feasible and profitable valorization of pre-consumer textile waste in Egypt.

More information on the SwitchMed/MED TEST III demonstration pilots in Egypt is available in English and Arabic.

“What is interesting is that this growth is not limited by demand, it is limited by the availability as there are not enough recycling capacities around the world.”

Marco Ricchetti, CEO of Blumine