How cotton recycling could save Bangladesh up to half a billion dollars

·2-min read
Recycling cotton waste could result in significant savings for Bangladesh.

While also benefiting the planet, making better use of textile waste in Bangladesh could save a lot of money. A new report reveals that the country -- the world's second-largest clothing manufacturer -- could save up to half a billion dollars a year by fully recycling its cotton waste.

In 2019, Bangladesh produced some 577,000 tons of waste primarily from the ready-made garment and textile industry, according to a report conducted by the Circular Fashion Partnership -- a cross-sector project led by Global Fashion Agenda, with numerous partners including Reverse Resources and the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), and whose goal is to help move fashion towards a circular system.

Almost half of this waste, or 250,000 tons, was cotton waste in 2019. Yet the report estimates that factories in Bangladesh could sell this cotton waste on the recycling market for as much as $100 million.

Based on findings that Bangladesh imported 1.63 million tons of cotton fiber in 2019, worth $3.5 billion, the report points out that imports could be reduced by about 15% if cotton waste was fully recycled in the country. This would represent an annual saving of half a billion dollars.

The research highlights how important it is for fashion companies to focus on circularity, especially in a country where many of Europe's biggest brands have their ready-to-wear collections manufactured.

"Bangladesh produces arguably the most recyclable textile waste of any apparel producing country. With the emergence of new and improved versions of existing recycling technologies, Bangladesh has a huge opportunity to scale its local recycling capacity and accordingly reduce its dependency on virgin raw materials. If a recycling industry is fostered now, it would enable the country to not only enjoy the obvious benefits of cost and carbon footprint reduction but also gain a massive competitive edge," said Nin Castle, co-founder of Reverse Resources.

Christelle Pellissier

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