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Sorting for Circularity India: Pre-Consumer Pilot Learnings


Pilot Overview

Sorting for Circularity India: Pre-Consumer Pilot Learnings


The pre-consumer pilot through a multi-stakeholder approach demonstrates a 360 degree closed loop system for post-industrial waste (cutting waste) from the factory floor (Fig.1). In the pilot, the segregated waste at the factory floor was digitally traced, further accessed and processed by the recyclers/waste handlers and in selected cases, the new traceable recycled fibres were brought back in the production units.

Fig 1 : Pre-consumer pilot with 360 degree approach of bringing factory waste back as new fibres

The pilot has set out to:

  1. Demonstrate the 360° model of moving pre-consumer waste into a circular value chain 180° validation part 1 – Creating visibility and access to waste from manufacturers to recyclers 180° validation part 2 – Use new traceable recycled fibres in the production units
  2. Demonstrate the impact of segregation at source and digital traceability in the Indian textile waste supply chain; from the point of generation to recycling
  3. Identify the challenges and mitigation strategies of moving recycled fibres back into the supply chain
  4. Create brand level visibility of waste from their production units through the Reverse Resources(RR) platform
  5. Test new business models, incentives and wider economic benefits for circulating recycled fibres back into global apparel supply chains



A selected group of brand nominated manufacturers were onboarded on the RR platform and were provided with the standard operating procedure to implement segregation and waste inventory management practices at the factory floor through on-ground training sessions. Once onboarded, manufacturers created profiles on the Reverse Resources platform where their information was analysed and their waste types that are of high value, based on the current market demand, were identified.

The segregation of the high value of waste (based on composition and colour) at the point of generation was advised with suitable labelling and inventory management practices. Furthermore, the manufacturers digitised this segregated textile waste inventory by inputting data on the Reverse Resources platform. This brought visibility to textile waste streams that until now remained untracked.

Next, offline matchmaking of this segregated waste inventory with suitable types of recyclers was facilitated based on parameters such as location, proximity, recycler demand, and technical specifications. As the Reverse Resources platform evolves, facilitating online matchmaking tools are also envisioned as part of the platform roadmap. In the case of this pilot, given that the market explored is new and the volumes of waste used in the trials low, offline matchmaking was necessary.

It is important to account for the current recycling potential of fabric compositions to better understand how matchmaking of said waste streams were done. Today, 100% cotton and cotton rich textile waste have the highest recycling potential and hence highest market value. However, as more recycling technologies emerge and reach commercial scale, the recycling potential of these fabric compositions will also increase.

Fig 2 : An estimate of the recycling potential change for different textile waste streams explained below

In the above image, an estimate of the recycling potential change for different textile waste streams is provided. For ease of understanding, the fabric compositions are ranked in descending order with regards to their recycling potential and their grading. For example, 100% cotton knit has been highlighted the darkest because in the current market scenario it has the highest recycling potential and hence the highest grade of textile waste. When more poly-cotton and synthetic regenerative recycling technologies are fully commercialised, the demand for other synthetic and synthetic-rich textiles will also increase. 100% cotton woven, in the future, is highlighted dark as well to indicate that with the emergence of new technologies more materials will reach higher grades.

By way of data collection at every point of custody transfer, digital traceability was embedded in the supply chains. A reference of the factories are shared below:

❝ The Sorting for Circularity India project is a much needed research work. It has helped to map and provide valuable data to evaluate the potential of textile waste as a feedstock for recycling. It will also help to highlight the importance of textile recycling.❞

– Usha Yarns (Recycler)


Fig 3 : Waste flows orchestrated and traced in the pilot

❝This project is a productive approach and for traceability it is a must to do so, we would like to partner with more partners and increase our traceable volumes.❞

– Kakkar Spinning Mills (recycler)