New research suggests that cotton waste produced by the major clothing sector in Bangladesh could be worth up to US$ 100 million (EUR 84 million) in the recycling market.
A report from the country’s cross-industry Circular Fashion Partnership (CFP) estimates that in 2019 Bangladesh produced approximately 577 000 tonnes of waste from its ready made garments factories and fabrics mills of which 250 000 tonnes was 100% pure cotton waste.
Bangladesh is currently heavily reliant on imports of textile fibre, bringing in 1.63 million tonnes of staple cotton fibre in 2019 worth US$ 3.5 billion. Based on the CFP findings, recycling cotton waste could help cut such imports by around 15%, saving US$ 500 million.
CFP is a cross-sectorial project, led by Global Fashion Agenda with partners Reverse Resources, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), that facilitates circular commercial collaborations between manufacturers, recyclers and fashion brands operating in Bangladesh.
The partnership supports the development of the textile recycling industry in Bangladesh by capturing and directing post-production fashion waste back into the production of new fashion products. It is also seeking solutions for a Covid-19 related pile-up of redundant stock and to engage regulators and investors around the current barriers and economic opportunities in the country.
Federica Marchionni, ceo of Global Fashion Agenda, says for fashion to prosper within ‘planetary boundaries’, the opportunities of a circular economy have to be embraced. ‘We have been able to map participants’ textile waste to grasp its scale and quantify the economic opportunity of closing the loop,’ she explains. ‘These findings demonstrate that a circular fashion system could breed not only environmental but financial benefits for a country.’
Nin Castle, head of recycling at Reverse Resources, says Bangladesh produces the most recyclable textile waste of any apparel-producing country. ‘With the emergence of new and improved versions of existing recycling technologies, Bangladesh has a huge opportunity to scale its local recycling capacity and accordingly reduce its dependency on virgin raw materials. If a recycling industry is fostered now, it would enable the country to not only enjoy the obvious benefits of cost and carbon footprint reduction but also gain a massive competitive edge.’
BGMEA president Faruque Hassan says his members cannot be indifferent to the sustenance of the planet. ‘We have to shift the linear economic model to circular. This is the future and we are committed to close the loop while achieving our strategic growth targets.’
Since its launch in November 2020, more than 50 brands, manufacturers, recyclers and NGOs have signed up to CFP. The newest brands to join include Benetton, Fashion Cube, Next and Primark.
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