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Euratex’s ReHubs initiative to tackle Europe’s massive textile waste problem

By Simone Preuss


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Image: Paulo Sergio Zembruski / Pexels

ReHubs, an initiative by the European Apparel and Textile Federation (Euratex) launched in 2020, aims to tackle Europe’s huge textile waste problem - currently, 7 to 7.5 million tons of it are generated (mainly by private households) but only about 30 to 35 percent are collected. The European waste law wants to change that and accordingly, all EU member states must separately collect textile waste in the next 2.5 years.

While some countries are designing schemes to face the waste collection challenge, currently no large-scale plan exists to process it - and this is where Euratex’s ReHubs initiative comes in as it plans to pursue fibre-to-fibre recycling for 2.5 millions tons of textile waste by 2030.

Textile recycling is lucrative

According to the ReHubs Techno Economic Master Study (TES), the textile recycling industry could generate around 15,000 direct new jobs by 2030 in Europe, and increase the need for nearshoring and reshoring of textile manufacturing. This would result in economic, social and environmental benefits amounting to 3.5 billion to 4.5 billion euros by 2030.

“Transform Waste into Feedstock”, ReHubs first project, aims at building up a 50,000 tons capacity facility by 2024, led by Texaid AG. It will focus on further developing and scaling such sorting technologies.

“We assess that to reach a fibre-to-fibre recycling rate of around 18 to 26 percent by 2030, a capital expenditure investment in the range of 6 billion to 7 billion euros will be needed, particularly to scale up sufficient sorting and processing infrastructure,” estimates Euratex.

In addition to “Transform Waste into Feedstock”, three further projects have been announced: to increase the adoption of mechanically recycled fibres in the value chain, to expand capacity by solving technical challenges for thermo-mechanical textiles recycling, and to create a capsule collection with post-consumer recycled products.

What is the ReHubs initiative?

The ReHubs initiative consists of three stakeholder groups: a business council pooling together pioneering companies to perform the TES study; a stakeholder forum with a wider pool of business, research and academia players, which has been gathered twice to share high-level information and to support future collaboration, and a Euratex task force with 14 national associations to review progress of the ReHubs initiatives and to align with policy and industry developments and on a national level.

Euratex launched the ReHubs initiative in 2020 to promote collaboration across the extended textile value chain and to consider all perspectives on chemicals, fibre and textile making, garments production, retail and distribution, textile waste collection, sorting and recycling.