The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), in collaboration with Egyptian partners from the SwitchMed/ MED TEST III project, arranged a workshop on November 21, 2023, in Cairo to highlight untapped prospects in Egypt’s textile recycling sector. The workshop showcased opportunities for private sector investors, blending mechanical recycling for 100% cotton and cotton-rich fabrics with cutting-edge chemical recycling for mixed textiles.
According to a waste mapping survey, textile and garment industries in Egypt annually produce 212,000 tons of post-industrial and pre-consumer textile waste. Given the limited recycling capacity in the country, those quantities are not reclaimed back to the textile value chain, and are mostly directed to downcycling.
To address this situation, the SwitchMed B2B workshop engaged high-profile representatives from key sectors in a panel discussion. Experts from the Apparel Export Council of Egypt, Egypt Textiles & Home Textiles Export Council, PETCORE Europe, Chemical Recycling Europe, and Blumine S.R.L. explored into the local and international landscape of textile recycling, unveiling opportunities and challenges. According to Samer Riad, Board member of the Apparel Export Council of Egypt “the core need for garment factories is to get rid of the waste, and to do it quickly and Recyclers have to accommodate for these needs”.
To meet the demand of international brands, companies in the textile and garment sector are advised to incorporate recycled materials into their products. However, Egyptian companies mostly rely on imported recycled yarns as the locally produced recycled yarn does not meet the increased demand. Maurizio Crippa, vice president, Chemical Recycling Europe, emphasized that the capacity to produce recycled material has to be there when the demand for recycled material increases, which cannot happen overnight.
UNIDO is implementing two pilot initiatives under the SwitchMed Programme for developing business models to recycle post-industrial and pre-consumer textile waste in Egypt. The first project aims to modernize the recycling capacity by promoting investment in advanced chemical and mechanical recycling technologies. The second project focuses on creating a network of garment makers and textile companies to manage textile waste for high-quality recycling efficiently.
Accordingly, the B2B workshop presented two investment opportunities for textile recycling in Egypt. The first opportunity involves cutting-edge chemical recycling technology, which requires a significant capital investment. However, it can potentially replace nearly 35-50% of Egypt’s annual imports with recycled PET. The second opportunity focuses on mechanical recycling of cotton and cotton-rich fabrics, which make up almost half of Egypt’s textile waste.
European technology providers, including Gr3n SA, Dell’Orco & Villiani SRL, OMMI SRL, and Andritz, pitched their innovative solutions. Simultaneously, financing instruments Egyptian Pollution Abatement Program (EPAP III) and Green Economy Financing Facility (GEFF) presented their products, offering a comprehensive solution to participants.
Notably, ten investors engaged in business-to-business meetings with European technology providers after the workshop, exploring equipment specifics and costs. In the coming months, SwitchMed in Egypt will continue supporting local companies, demonstrating the benefits of these investments and fostering further investor engagement.
During the course of 2024, first results from the two UNIDO textile recycling initiatives will be presented.
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