Industry pilot projects demonstrate circular economy principles, converting 68,000 tons of cutting waste into 224,000 pairs of jeans with 20% recycled content.

During a closing event in Tunis on 24 April, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) presented a comprehensive Roadmap for the Tunisian textile industry. The roadmap provides recommendations on how to valorize pre-consumer and post-industrial textile waste in Tunisia.

The closing event in Tunis marked the end of the UNIDO textile value chain projects in Tunisia, which were implemented under the EU-funded SwitchMed Programme since 2019.

The UNIDO textile initiative has aimed to drive transformative change in the textile sector by introducing sustainable business models, enhancing chemical management practices, and promoting principles of circular economy.

Rym Jelassi, General Coordinator from the Tunisian Textile and Clothing Federation (FTTH) said the FTTH will be working in partnership with public companies and operators in the sector to implement this roadmap, especially as it will certainly help develop industry in Tunisia, meet the demands of international brands and improve textile/clothing production and exportation to the EU and other markets.

According to a waste mapping study, commissioned by UNIDO, over 31,000 tons of pre-consumer textile waste are generated annually in Tunisia, with a significant portion stemming from cutting scraps, garment overproduction, including second-quality products.

Under the EU-funded SwitchMed Programme, UNIDO has been collaborating with international brands, expert organizations, and national institutions to bolster circularity in the textile value chains of Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia. Pilot projects were conducted to demonstrate innovative approaches to convert textile waste into valuable resources, thereby reducing environmental impact.

One successful pilot project involved a collaboration between UNIDO, the Swedish denim brand “Nudie Jeans,” and their Tunisian supply chain partner, Denim Authority. Together, they validated a recycling business scenario that resulted in the production of 96,000 pairs of new jeans made from 20% recycled cotton sourced from second-quality jeans.

Two similar pilot projects with other partners, such as Diesel and Calvin Klein Jeans, further underline the feasibility and impact of circular business models by sorting and locally valorizing cutting waste from the jeans production. Diesel has successfully manufactured 88,000 pairs of jeans, while Calvin Klein Jeans has placed orders for 40,000 pairs, incorporating 20% recycled content from cutting scraps. In total, the three pilots have valorized 68,000 tons of waste, leading to the production of 224,000 pairs of new jeans with 20% recycled content.

Additionally, UNIDO partnered with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) Foundation to promote the phase-out of hazardous chemicals in Tunisia’s textile industry. Through training and capacity-building activities, the initiative facilitated the adoption of safer chemicals, thereby enhancing material recovery and compliance with international standards.

Roberta De Palma, Chief Technical Advisor at UNIDO, emphasizes, "The Tunisian textile sector can strengthen its global position as a sustainable and reliable partner by adopting circular and more innovative business models and better complying with regulatory requirements for global export markets."

The outcomes of the pilot projects have culminated in a comprehensive Roadmap for the textile sector in Tunisia, offering practical guidelines for industry stakeholders to embrace sustainable practices and maximize the reuse of pre-consumer textile waste in the production process.

For further details and case studies on the Roadmap from UNIDO's textile initiative in Tunisia please visit.

Data and image source:
NO Comment 26th May 2024

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