A New Textile Recycling Initiative

May 16, 2023  16:30  |  News

H&M Foundation is taking the concept of inclusive circularity in the textile industry to the next level with Saamuhika Shakti, and they’re thrilled to welcome two dynamic new partners who are revolutionizing Circular Textiles Waste Models, putting waste pickers at the forefront of change.

India currently produces a staggering 8.5% of the world’s textile waste. Within the country, 51% of textile waste comes from domestic post-consumer sources, 42% originates from pre-consumer channels, and 7% is imported post-consumer waste. While there have been strides in textile waste management innovation, waste pickers have unfortunately been left out of the economic equation.

A New Textile Recycling Initiative

Photo – courtesy of H&M Foundation ©

“We’re determined to create additional income opportunities through textile waste and foster inclusive circularity, enhancing the livelihoods of waste pickers,” asserts Maria Bystedt, Strategy Lead at H&M Foundation.

The two new partners, Stichting Enviu Nederland (Enviu) and Intellecap’s Circular Apparel Innovation Factory (CAIF) are joining forces with the existing collective to integrate waste workers into the Saamuhika Shakti program through two strategic approaches:

1. Micro-entrepreneurship with CAIF CAIF will spearhead the waste-entrepreneurship model, utilizing Bengaluru’s Dry Waste Collection Centres (DWCCs) as local hubs to aggregate and sort post-consumer textile waste. They will collaborate with 6-7 waste entrepreneurs managing the DWCCs, empowering them to adopt the Circular Textiles Waste Model. This includes establishing textile waste sorting capabilities at the centers and providing comprehensive training for waste sorters and pickers in handling this specific type of waste. The aim is to enable textile waste collection, sorting, and selling to generate revenue for waste pickers.

2. Circular B2B linen enterprise with Enviu Enviu will focus on creating a circular B2B textile service model, starting with the hotel industry. Waste hotel linen will undergo recycling and be reintroduced into the system as new towels, involving waste pickers in the process. By December 2023, Enviu aims to collect and divert approximately 30-35 tons of cotton waste, carefully sorted by waste workers, from ending up in landfills. Additionally, they plan to create alternative livelihood opportunities for waste pickers in hotel laundry, logistics, and warehousing services.

This exciting new textile recycling initiative, within the larger Saamuhika Shakti program by H&M Foundation, is part of a comprehensive multi-year textile-recycling endeavour throughout India. By incorporating a social perspective and ensuring the voices of waste pickers are heard, this program aims to make a lasting impact. Seed funding for the broader program is also provided by IKEA Foundation.