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Textile waste - a future resource for the Nordic region

In the Nordic countries almost all textile waste is sent to incineration or landfills. There is a huge potential to use the resources in a more sustainable way. The Nordic green growth projects on textile aim to increase the reuse and recycling of this significant part of our waste production.

There are three projects under the textile part of the Nordic green growth initiative.

  • The Nordic textile reuse and recycling commitment: The aim of the project on a Nordic textile reuse and recycling commitment has been to develop a Nordic voluntary commitment, including a code of conduct, to assure companies, municipalities and consumers a transparent and sustainable management of used textiles
  • A Nordic strategy for collection, sorting, reuse and recycling of textiles: The aim of the project is to propose a common Nordic strategy for improving infrastructure for collection, sorting and reuse/recycling of textiles. The strategy could also be used by Nordic Governments and other stakeholders to develop possible new instruments and measures as well as be a competitive advantage for Nordic business and create green jobs.
  • An extended producer responsibility (EPR) system and new business models to increase reuse and recycling of textiles in the Nordic region:The aim of the project is to propose and evaluate policy packages which would support extended producer responsibility (EPR) systems and innovative business models which can promote greater reuse and recycling of used textiles.

See video interview with the project leaders: A common Nordic market for textile reuse

Results

The results from the projects on textiles show that increased collection, sorting, re-use and recycling of textiles can reduce the environmental impact of textile use in the Nordic region, boost the competitiveness of the region, and generate green jobs. Annual consumption of new textiles in the Nordic countries is 350,000 tons, but only 120,000 tons of used textiles are collected each year.

A new Nordic textile reuse and recycling commitment has beenlaunched and it has attracted great interest from companies, municipalities and others interested in being part of a joint Nordic effort to reduce textile waste.

Nordic decision-makers have been presented with clear objectives and expert recommendations for the Nordic region to take the lead at increasing recycling and reuse of  textiles, making clear proposals for how to continue this effort.

The work on an extended producer responsibility (EPR) systems and innovative new business models can lead to prolonged lifetime of textiles and potentially create green jobs both in the Nordic region and internationally, if applied. For the plastic area the ongoing work on hazardous substances and markets can be used in the work on the circular economy package presented by the European commission, as well as in policy development in the Nordic region on the road towards a circular economy.

In the textile area, three studies have been published that show the way towards doubling the amounts of textiles collected, re-used and recycled in the Nordic region.  The objective is that textiles will be re-used as often as possible during the course of their functional lifetime, and then be recycled. This type of restructuring could potentially lead to over 4000 new jobs in the region.

Read also the articles "Nordic collaboration presents measures to improve plastic recycling rates" and "Nordic strategy aspires to double the collection of textiles for reuse and recycling" as well as "New methods for recycling plastic and textile waste" from the web magazine "Green Growth the Nordic Way" at www.nordicway.org

See all reports and policy briefs published on norden.org

Partners

IVL Swedish Environmental  Institute; Environice/Iceland; Lund University/Sweden; Copenhagen Resource Institute/Denmark; Ostfold Research (Østfoldforskning)/Norway, Nordland University/Norway; SYKE/Finland.

This project is part of the overall initiative “The Nordic Region – leading in green growth”, the Nordic Prime Ministers’ shared green growth initiative under the auspices of the Nordic Council of Ministers.

Councils of Ministers involved

The following Councils of Ministers are involved in the projects on waste: Environment, Energy, Trade.

Read more in the web magazine “Green Growth the Nordic Way” or download a fact sheet on the project (requires an issuu account).

Contact:

Green Growth Textile Coordinator Yvonne Augustsson: yvonne.augustsson@swedishepa.se