New partnership to turn 40 million kgs of textile waste into new fibers and create 5,000 circular jobs by 2024

GIZ, Concordia Textiles & Enviu have partnered to turn 40 million kgs of textile waste into new fibers and create 5,000 circular jobs by 2024.

Together the new partnership will build textile waste sorting centers and commercialize new recycling technologies in India, addressing the most critical gaps in India’s textile waste infrastructure:

  • There is no formal system for textile waste management, leading to huge amounts of unused waste and a burden on India’s ~4 million waste workers who have inconsistent and unsustainable livelihoods
  • GIZ (under BMZ’s develoPPP funding programme), Concordia Textiles and Enviu together formed the “Putting Waste to Work” partnership that by 2024 aims to sort and divert 40 million kgs of textile waste from landfill and create over 5,000 jobs
  • The partners will support the Indian market entry of Purfi Global, a cutting-edge recycling technology that doesn’t just recycle but rejuvenates textile waste into as good as virgin quality fibre
  • The partners are building India’s first high-volume textile waste sorting facility that aims to be a one-stop-hub for all kinds of textile waste to be sorted and processed as per the needs of various solution providers

Turning textile waste into a valuable resource
India is a global hub for textile and garment manufacturing, employing over 40 million people at some point in the value chain. While the industry receives considerable support throughout its supply chain, critical gaps exist in managing materials and garments at the end of their life, leading to roughly 90,000 tons of textile waste created every year from manufacturing alone. This represents a huge economic loss of material unused or used below value. A missed opportunity for India: One of the world’s largest textile producers and importers of used clothing, but lacks an infrastructure to deal with textile waste, leaving an estimated four million informal waste workers trapped in low-income, unreliable jobs. But the impact and business potential of turning textile waste into a valuable resource is huge. There is the potential of unlocking an entirely new job market for waste workers: For every 1,000 tons of textile waste handled, research suggests that twenty decent jobs can be created, and each ton of re-used fibre can create additional seven jobs.

This is why Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and its funding programme develoPPP, Concordia Textiles and Enviu formed the “Putting Waste to Work” partnership. Starting with a value chain issue analysis they identified three critical gaps due to which most textile waste in India ends up in landfills and incinerators — enhanced sorting, unsustainable livelihoods for waste workers, and lack of cutting-edge recycling technologies.

2024: 40 million kgs of waste diverted from landfill and over 5,000 jobs created
In 3 years’ time the partners will create a commercially scaled value chain for textile waste management that will divert 40 million kgs of waste from landfill and create over 5,000 jobs for waste workers. They’re setting up India’s first commercially scaled textile waste sorting centre, employing primarily women waste workers who will be trained on enhanced sorting methods. The sorted waste will be made available as feedstock to brands, manufacturers, and other solution providers. On top of this, they’re enabling the market entry of PurFi Global, a revolutionary recycling technology, to the Indian textile market. PurFi is a leader in the manufacture of virgin-quality fibers derived from textile waste. It uses 99% less water, up to 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, and 90% less energy than typical approaches to textile waste recycling.

First collection center in Chennai with all-women team of sorters
The partnership hit the ground running. The first collection and sourcing center has already been set up in Chennai. Textile waste from brands and manufacturers has already been sorted and collected so far by our all-women team of sorters. The women are receiving hands-on training and capacity building to become experts in sorting and processing different kinds of textile waste. With these new skills they’re moving up the career ladder, opening up opportunities for managerial roles and receiving higher, sustainable incomes.

Gigi Mathews, Director of Enviu India: “We believe building impact-driven companies that prove and showcase it is possible is key to achieving a new normal: a textile industry that serves people and planet. With Enviu’s Reweave venture building program we look at the obstacles to change in the textile value chain and fill in the gaps. Together with GIZ and Concordia we’re filling a huge gap. We’re tapping into the potential of a circular textile sector: utilizing textile waste as a resource and generating an entire new employment sector with fairness and inclusivity wired in its DNA. I have seen the impact our circular ventures create on families first hand. They can execute their profession with pride and bring stability to their family.”

Ashish Chaturvedi, Director Climate Change, GIZ India: “The textile sector is a key contributor to environmental pollution and climate change. For GIZ, this initiative is a great example of how industry pioneers like Concordia can play a critical role in finding solutions to addressing the global waste problem, climate change and contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Our aspiration is that this project creates a blueprint to be replicated across other regions and geographies.”

Carl Baekelandt, CEO Concordia Textiles and Managing Director Purfi “We want to support projects which contribute to sustainability and environment targets. It’s time for the classic textile industry to reconstruct its value chain in favor of the environment as well as local communities. We’re excited to work together with our partners to achieve this common goal.”

Joy Nunn, Managing Director of PurFi “What we’re going to do together will revolutionize the world of waste in India, keeping waste out of landfills and giving it real value while upcycling it for brands and retailers using PurFi’s Rejuvenation technologies or working with other recyclers across the globe. We’re very excited to partner with Enviu who has foot on the ground in India with a strong network in the industry and in-depth knowledge of the local supply chain. This is necessary to enter the Indian apparel market.”

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