A waste mapping study, commissioned by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), estimates the volumes of pre-consumer waste flows generated by the textile and clothing industry in Morocco and Tunisia by fiber, quality, sector and region. The study, which is part of the EU-funded SwitchMed/MED TEST III project, discloses that over 100 thousand tons of textile material are “lost” each year as pre-consumer waste in Morocco’s and Tunisia’s textile/clothing production.
“Taking advantage of pre-consumer waste, collected from raw materials generated in the production of textile and apparel products is an opportunity for the local industry, especially with the growing demand for sustainable and recycled textiles by international brands,” says Roberta De Palma, Chief Techincal Advisor at UNIDO.
The waste mapping study, executed by Blumine and Reverse Resources, surveyed in 2020 100 companies (54 in Tunisia, 46 in Morocco) operating in the textile and apparel sector and eight recycling/waste management companies. Estimates from the study indicate that fabric cutting and spinning processes have the highest waste rate. There was also a dramatic increase in “garment deadstock” due to order disruptions caused by the COVID pandemic.
“We welcome these surveys, which make it possible to present to both manufacturers and national authorities the opportunities offered by the large volumes of textile waste available,” says Sara Mariani, Chief Sustainability Officer at OTB/Diesel.
The fashion industry is one of the major polluting industries in the world. Each year, millions of tons of textile waste are created, with most of it ending up in landfills. Reusing pre-consumer textile waste within the fashion supply chain offers many environmental and economic advantages and is easier to collect, sort and process than post-consumer textile waste.
According to the CEO of Blumine, Marco Ricchetti: “The Moroccan and Tunisian textile and clothing industries have the potential to become leaders in textile circularity, and the proximity to the European market makes the two countries ideal candidates to provide quality textile waste to recyclers.”
Transport and logistics costs, which can account for up to 30-40% of the recycling cost, can limit the economic feasibility of textile waste recycling. The proximity of recycling facilities is thus a primary factor in developing a recycling value chain. According to the study, three regions in Morocco account for 90% of the pre-consumer textile waste, while in Tunisia, five industrial areas generate 70% of the textile waste.
Taha Ghazi, Director of the Textile and Leather Industries Department at the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Green and Digital Economy, comments: “The importance of the circular economy in Morocco become evident by the imminent creation – by our Ministry – of a Green Ecosystem for textiles and other industrial sectors. Eco-responsible textiles will be one of the pillars and a major axis of the next industrial reflection within the framework of the new national economic model.”
For the next phase of MED TEST III, two industry pilots, each in Morocco and Tunisia, will explore the feasibility, challenges, and opportunities to recycle pre-consumer textile waste on an industrial scale. The outcomes from the pilots will support the project objective to lay down the foundation for a local recycling value chain and prepare the supply chain in the countries to deliver more circular products that meet consumer preferences and requirements for sustainable apparel.
The textile waste value chain mapping study was realized with the support of FTTH (Fédération Tunisienne du Textile et de l’Habillement) in Tunisia and AMITH (Association Marocaine des Industries du Textile et de l’Habillement).
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