Textile recycling in Europe is still "limited" #707


Paris – In Europe, textile recycling “is still limited” while the quantity collected is increasing and “the reusable part is decreasing at the same time”, says a report conducted by the research firm Terra for the French eco-organisation Refashion, published on Wednesday.

On the Old Continent, 58 per cent of the textiles, household linen and footwear (TLC) collected are reused, according to this study entitled “European monitoring of optical sorting and textile recognition, sorting and untying technologies”, carried out from June to December 2022.

Of this 58 per cent, 4 per cent is reused in France (among others in second-hand stores) and 96 per cent abroad, “for export”, Refashion told AFP. In its 2021 activity report, Refashion notes that “Africa (excluding Haiti) is the primary destination” of French exports of reusable textiles and shoes, which are sold in particular on second-hand markets.

In its summary, the consultancy Terra recommends that “the export of part of textiles for recycling and reuse (be) more restricted in the future”. Terra also notes that the reusable portion of clothing collected at the European level has been decreasing for several years. According to the consultancy, this situation is due, among other things, to “the decline in the quality of the clothes” put on the market and to “the development of resale between individuals upstream, which increases the level of wear and tear of the pieces collected”.

With the rise of resale platforms, the French tend to give less to Emmaus (see our article on the subject), and above all to give it only their lowest quality items, as the association deplored in mid-March. Thirty-two percent of the TLC collected in Europe is recycled, notably into non-woven materials for the construction, automotive or upholstery industries, or into rags for household or industrial use, or into yarn for new fabrics.

“A majority (of this 32 percent) is exported and processed in Asia and Europe,” Refashion told AFP. For Terra, “the lack of reliable material characterisation” of the non-reusable part of textiles as well as the presence of “hard points or other disruptors to recycling” (buttons, rivets, zips, etc.) are obstacles to the development of industrial recycling. (AFP)

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