Bengaluru waste pickers in the driver’s seat of new textile recycling initiative
18 May 2023: H&M Foundation is expanding the inclusive circularity in the textile industry through Saamuhika Shakti by welcoming two new partners that are developing Circular Textiles Waste Models, with waste pickers playing the lead role.
India accounts for 8.5% of global textile waste generation. Out of total textile waste circulation in the country, domestic post-consumer collection contributes 51%, 42% comes from pre-consumer sources, and 7% is imported post-consumer waste. Innovations in textile waste management are emerging, but as of yet, the economic value chain bypasses the waste picker.
“Our goal is to generate additional income streams through textile waste. Through this initiative, we are promoting inclusive circularity and improving waste pickers’ livelihood opportunities.” says Maria Bystedt, Strategy Lead H&M Foundation.
The two new partners are Stichting Enviu Nederland (Enviu) and Intellecap’s Circular Apparel Innovation Factory (CAIF). Together with the existing collective, they will include waste workers already within the Saamuhika Shakti program into two work streams:
A micro-entrepreneurship with CAIF
CAIF will lead the waste-entrepreneurship model and use Bengaluru’s existing Dry Waste Collection Centres (DWCCs) as a network of hyperlocal centers to aggregate and segregate post-consumer textile waste. There, CAIF will work with 6-7 waste entrepreneurs running the DWCCs to adopt the Circular Textiles Waste Model, by building textile waste sorting capacity at their centers and training the waste sorters and waste pickers in the handling of this kind of waste.
A circular B2B linen enterprise with Enviu
Enviu will work to create a circular B2B textile service model, starting with the hotel industry. Waste hotel linen will be recycled and brought back into the loop as new towels, integrating waste pickers in the process. By December 2023, Enviu looks to collect and divert from landfills close to 30-35 tons of cotton waste sorted by waste workers.
This new textile recycling setup within H&M Foundation’s initiative Saamuhika Shakti is contributing to a larger multi-year textile-recycling program across India, adding on a social perspective and ensuring that the voices of waste pickers are part of the equation. The larger program is also seed funded by IKEA Foundation.