The Promotion of circular economy in the textile and garment sector project aims to promote the concept of circular economy (CE) in the textile and garment (TG) sector of Lesotho, Madagascar and South Africa through a value chain approach that addresses the sector’s upstream: resource use; green and sustainable chemistry as well as downstream by the reuse, recycling and conversion of textile/garment discards and related wastes into economically viable and socially beneficial products and services.
The project is funded over a 5 – year period by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and the implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and the National Cleaner Production Centre South Africa (NCPC-SA) locally.
The Project Preparation Phase took place in 2021 and involved eight (8) clothing and textile companies in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Western Cape and Eastern Cape. It was a period of information gathering to support the UNIDO proposal to GEF for funding of the project, and involved RECP/BAT/BEP assessments, studies on gender, waste categorisations, chemicals used, etc.
During the PPG phase several root causes and barriers to full implementation of Circular Economy in the sector were identified in Lesotho, Madagascar and South Africa, and all three project countries faced similar challenges related to the continued use of hazardous chemicals in the value chains. This includes the release of chemicals during production, use and disposal, generation and disposal of wastes, offcuts and discards, and their impact on human health and the environment.
The three main root causes are (1) limited technical capacity and expertise, (2) limited coordination between local, regional and global initiatives, and (3) the lack of enabling environment which focuses on policy and regulation, and this project aims to address these challenges over the next 5 years.
The project is supported by international partners such as:
- Cambridge University Circular Economy Centre (CEC): to assist in developing new business models and financial mechanisms for the promotion of circular economy. They also provide executing services for training of trainers (ToT), the development of tools, school curricula and university research programmes
- ICLEI Africa: to provide services related to Circular Economy policy and legislation
- Sustainable Fashion Academy (SFA): to provide services related to the development of relevant toolkits, training of trainers on sustainable apparel and the development of business cases for supply chain management and circular economy
- Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC): to build capacity on good chemical management practices through training programmes and workshops.