The National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPC-SA) recently released a new guideline targeting the local textile and clothing sector. The document, South Africa Textile and Clothing Sector Guideline Development, provides a comprehensive framework for enhancing the competitiveness of the local industry, promoting sustainability, facilitating its growth and improving working conditions in the textile and clothing sector.

One of the main authors of the 54-page guideline, the NCPC-SA’s Alf Hartzenberg, explains, “The first objective of the guideline was to adopt circular reuse and recycling economic models. While the dominant trend is speed to market at the lowest cost, the preference towards sustainable practices and products is increasing with retailers and manufacturers appreciating the impact of their products, both socially and environmentally.

“Another objective was to promote a shift towards more local production, to create jobs and to build supply chain resilience. Major retailers have begun to emphasise transitioning towards sourcing from local manufacturers, switching to organic and better initiative cotton, for example, increasing recycled content and adopting measures to reduce hazardous chemical use in textiles.”


South Africa’s textile and clothing sector has a rich history with the potential for significant contribution to the country’s economy. The sector also plays a crucial role in promoting the country’s exports and developing its value chains.

Unfortunately, the textile and clothing sector’s contribution to national gross domestic product declined from 6% in 2005 to 3% in 2016 and 0.7% in 2021, as did formal employment from 143 000 to 81 000 over the same period.

Read full article on page 21 of the Sustainabilty Handbook