In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) along the textile value chain have in particular been impacted. In Morocco and Tunisia, where the textile and clothing industry is one of the largest employer, production stoppages and order cancellations for whole collections are endangering the future for the whole business ecosystem. Flattening this recession curve will take time and require innovative business models. Already, textile and garment companies in Morocco and Tunisia have put their assets to good use in the crisis by turning over their factories to produce face masks and securing some business continuity.
Going forward, the textile value chain in Tunisia and Morocco play a major role in the operation of multinational fashion brands and will continue to do so in the future. But this sector needs to revise current production practices that can stimulate economic recovery while embracing opportunities in rebuilding its supply chains, prioritizing innovation as now unsold collections will become discarded.
End of February this year, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) held eight awareness-raising workshops in Morocco and Tunisia informing over 40 companies and institutions on the prospects of recycling post-industrial and pre-consumer waste into textiles and garments and how this can benefit the local textile value chains. As part of the EU funded SwitchMed / MED TEST III project, that focuses on assisting textile and garment industries in Morocco and Tunisia to phase out hazardous chemicals, while developing more circular value chains, these events marked an initial launch of the project in the countries and will continue until 2023.
The valorization of textile waste is a commercially viable solution, but will require the establishment of proper business linkages between different actors along the textile value chain. For this reason, UNIDO is exploring areas of cooperation with the Benetton Group, Inditex Group, Hallotex, the PVH Corporation and Nudie Jeans to access their supply chains in the region and inspire businesses along it to engage in sourcing post-industrial and pre-consumer waste for recycling value chains.
“This is an important step for the textile and apparel industry in the region. It helps to retain value and resources in the countries, drive innovation, and improve the profitability of SMEs by applying circular economy principles in their business models”, says UNIDO Project Manager, Carolina Gonzalez. “Working together with leading fashion brands is creating a win-win situation for everyone involved in the project.”
Last quarter of 2020, the waste-mapping of the textile and garment industry is projected to be concluded and will be essential to estimate the amount, type and quality of cutting scraps, defective pieces, unsold collections, and second quality graded products from the value chain. Actors from the European textile, recycling and yarn spinning industry will also be integrated into the project to create linkages and knowledge exchange with local stakeholders that can help to facilitate a local recycling infrastructure and provide recycled textile fibres aligned to global market needs.
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