Textile is extremely important for the modern person with comforts for their homes, offices and public buildings and clothing.
This being said, the production and consumption of textiles cause a number of adverse effects on the environment and the climate through the use of water, arable land and chemicals. One of the most significant effects of textiles is manifested in the “death” of the products and the consequences of this - landfill and non-regulated incineration. As a result, the impacts of textiles multiply and lead to the release of pollutants and greenhouse gases and pollution of soils and surface and groundwater.
Therefore, attention to textile waste resulting from the use of this type of product is extremely important for our country as well as for the EU countries. The circular economy Legislative Package adopted in 2018 already includes a target for EU countries - by 2025, to collect textile waste separately.
Guided by these facts, the European Institute Foundation and the Bulgarian Industrial Association are implementing a project: Citizens and Business - Partners in Textile and Footwear Waste Management, which seeks to increase citizens 'and businesses' involvement and engagement in the process of formulating change in the policy of mass distribution of waste.
One of the main focuses of the project was the study and analysis of practices for the collection and recovery of textile and footwear wastes in countries such as France, Austria, Sweden and Norway. The results of the study were summarized in a report and presented at a round table with the participation of business representatives (manufacturers and importers of textiles and footwear), industry organizations, processing and recycling companies, landfills, municipal and state structures and others. During the roundtable, participants exploited the shortcomings in the existing separate collection systems and shared practices of different municipalities in Bulgaria, gave ideas for the involvement of citizens and businesses in the waste recovery process, as well as some possible solutions for the implementation of separate collection of textile and footwear waste, which Member States need to introduce by 1 January 2025. There is an urge for citizens and businesses to join forces and, together with the authorities, to become a par trainers in the development of mass waste management policies to raise public concern, encourage civic participation in policy formulation, implementation and monitoring, and to encourage businesses to build working systems for separate collection.
Textile companies (marketers of textiles) and public authorities are increasingly seeing the potential economic and social benefits of incorporating the principles of the circular economy into textiles. In addition, in 2019, the EC identified textiles as a "priority" product for the circular economy.Together with packaging waste, food waste, end-of-life electrical appliances and other mass-produced waste, textile, construction and furniture waste are a priority. With the adoption of the New Circular Economy Action Plan in the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, textiles have been given a special place because of the significant pressure they exert on the use of primary raw materials and water on greenhouse gas emissions. There is also a low recycling rate for this type of product. The EC is also to propose the development of a comprehensive EU strategy for textiles, drawn up with the help of industry and other stakeholders.
Experts from partner organizations, supported by the business association in the sector, developed a report on existing practices in EU countries - France, Norway, Sweden, Denmark. The final part of the report comments on the situation in the country - legislation, current (good) practices, incentives and solutions that must be formulated for the effective management of textile waste. The report can be found at the following link.
The report draws conclusions and outlines the main features of good waste management using the requirements already formulated in the Waste Directive and the circular economy. The main decision is how the waste activities will be financed - separate collection (with all resulting costs - vessels, transport, storage), recycling - for reuse, recycling and disposal.
A review of current practices in the sector described in the project report shows that currently many municipalities collect textile waste separately at the expense of municipal waste and by using the business opportunities of specialized companies for the collection, sorting and sale of second-hand clothing.
Another option that has not yet been regulated is by setting up a recovery organization based on the rules of extended producer responsibility and the polluter pays principle. In order to put in place a working regulation for the operation of such an organization, a serious critical analysis of existing practices - through a waste management organization - should be made for the whole country, which is led by a body in which the obliged entities - the State, market by providing representation for separate collection and recycling companies.
As the organization does not distribute profits, stakeholders (marketers and collection and recovery companies) should make a proposal for a product fee to cover the cost of separate collection and recycling of textile waste. The fee should also provide a budget for community outreach campaigns (run by the organization), as well as finance independent activities of municipalities not covered by separate collection companies.
The fee must be accepted by the obliged persons and approved by a state body.The recovery organization should fulfill the objectives of the textile and footwear marketers.
Information on the organization's activities - financial and technical - should be made public, given the nature of the funds accumulated therein.
Extending the scope of widespread waste and including textile household waste is a good opportunity to rethink municipal waste management as a whole and broadly involve both the civil society and business