Back to publication

Wealth in Waste: India’s Potential to Bring Textile Waste Back Into The Supply Chain




FASHION FOR GOOD is the global platform for innovation. Fashion for Good unites the entire fashion ecosystem, from brands, manufacturers and suppliers, to consumers, to collaborate and drive the change towards a circular industry. At the core of Fashion for Good is its Global and Asia Innovation Programme. The Innovation Programme supports disruptive innovators on their journey to scale, providing hands-on project management, access to funding and a robust ecosystem of mentors and experts. Fashion for Good also initiates Foundational Projects, consortium projects that bring innovators, brands, manufacturers and funders together to validate technologies and processes, to accelerate supply chain implementation. The Good Fashion Fund catalyses access to finance for manufacturers in India, Bangladesh and Vietnam to shift at scale to more sustainable production processes. To activate individuals and industry alike, Fashion for Good houses the world’s first interactive museum dedicated to sustainable fashion and innovation to inform and empower people from across the world, a Circular Apparel Community co-working space, and creates open-source resources and reports to action change.

Fashion for Good’s programmes are supported by founding partner Laudes Foundation, co-founder William McDonough and corporate partners adidas, BESTSELLER, C&A, CHANEL, Inditex, Kering, Levi Strauss & Co., Otto Group, Patagonia, PVH Corp., Reformation, Stella McCartney, Target and Zalando, and affiliate and regional partners Arvind Limited, Birla Cellulose, Norrøna, Pangaia, Teijin Frontier, Vivobarefoot, Welspun and W. L. Gore & Associates. To learn more about Fashion for Good, visit


SATTVA CONSULTING is a leading consulting firm in the social impact sector and works with corporate CSR, foundations, multilaterals, non-profits, and social enterprises on scalable and sustainable solutions for social impact. Sattva works on the ground in India, Africa and South Asia and engages with 500+ organisations across the globe through service offerings in the space of strategic advisory, implementation, CSR advisory, research advisory, impact evaluation, and co-creation of sustainable models. Sattva works to realise inclusive development goals in emerging markets, across thematic areas, including in education, skill development and livelihoods, healthcare, water and sanitation, digital and financial inclusion, environment and climate action, among others. To learn more, visit


REVERSE RESOURCES is an impact driven company with a fundamental mission to reduce the industry’s dependency on our planet’s finite natural resources. RR’s software-as-a-service platform enables mapping, digital steering and tracing circular textile flows. Established over eight years ago, RR has been intently focusing on investigating market barriers and best use cases of textile waste streams. Having done extensive research and on-ground work (across Europe, Asia and parts of North Africa), RR has a demonstrated core competency in establishing textile waste feedstock routes for existing and emerging textile recycling companies. Till date RR has mapped waste across 20 countries for large fashion brands and organisations such as United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, Global Fashion Agenda, Accelerating Circularity, and now Fashion for Good. To learn more, visit


SAAHAS ZERO WASTE (SZW) is a socio-environmental enterprise that believes in a circular economy, where all waste is recovered as resources. SZW provides comprehensive waste management solutions including onsite waste management, Consultancy services, Extended Producers Responsibility for plastic and e-waste. As a true demonstration of circularity, SZW offers recycled products such as stationary, building material like roofing sheets, Ricron boards, upcycled textile products. SZW currently handles over 100+ MT of waste per day across India while supporting dignified and safe employment to more than 250 bottom of the pyramid staff (where approximately 60% are women). SZW is one of the first movers in formalising the waste management industry in India. To learn more, visit




This study has been commissioned as part of Fashion for Good’s Sorting for Circularity; India Project. This project was launched in October 2021 by Fashion for Good supported by project partners: Laudes Foundation, IDH, PVH Corp., adidas, Levi Strauss & Co., TESCO, Target, Primark, Arvind Limited, Birla Cellulose and Welspun India and technology partner Reverse Resources. The project is also supported by SU.RE project – An initiative by CMAI & RBL – RISE Worldwide. Sorting for Circularity is a framework conceived by Fashion for Good, with the aim to (re)capture textile waste and drive circularity within the fashion value chain. The consortium projects have been developed with scalability in mind, encompassing many geographies across the globe, starting with projects in Europe and India, where textile waste presents opportunities for new streams of revenue and new materials, reducing dependency on virgin materials and diverting waste from landfill and incineration.

The Sorting for Circularity; India project aims to organise the Indian textile waste market in a three phase approach so as to streamline, strengthen and foster the Indian waste market to drive the transition to a more circular economy that recaptures value to its maximum potential. The three phases of this approach aim to a) address the data gaps in textile waste supply chain; b) identify and pilot technologies which can organise the industry; c) build a roadmap to scale such technologies. This approach was designed to facilitate access to post-and pre-consumer feedstock that meets the quality requirements of advanced recycling technologies, giving these technologies an incentive to scale in India.

To enable an effective transition towards circularity, India needs to take into consideration the onground challenges backed by data. This study is a first-of-its-kind attempt to fill the data gaps that exist in the textile waste landscape in India and help the ecosystem players to orchestrate actions and devise solutions and interventions accordingly. It presents information on the extent of textile waste being generated in India and the complexity of the textile waste value chain processing it, by presenting evidence from both primary and secondary research.

A diverse set of stakeholders were targeted to ensure that perspectives of each were accurately represented. Surveys and in-depth interviews were administered with 157 manufacturers and interviews were conducted with 70 waste collectors and aggregators, 11 importers, 46 recyclers, 522 tailors and boutiques and 27 ecosystem players. A waste assessment study of ~8000 garments collected from Bengaluru was conducted, along with a consumer study with ~570 consumers, across Bengaluru and Delhi.




In addition to the executive summary, the report is divided into five key parts. Each part of the report talks about a critical aspect of the textile waste ecosystem in India, further divided into subsections. We have tried illustrating our insights throughout the report by highlighting the statement in black bold font followed by a key visual which summarises the messaging in the sub-section.



Part 1 of the report highlights the need and potential of circularity in the Indian textile and apparel industry. This section is based on desk research, including data points from various journals, global reports and newspaper articles on the Indian recycling industry. Newspaper articles have been used as secondary sources in certain sections, where there are no credible reports or datasets available for the textile recycling industry of India.

Part 2 through 5 of the report includes insights from primary research conducted by Fashion For Good, Reverse Resources, Saahas Zero Waste and Sattva Consulting teams over the past nine months. Detailed calculations and assumptions involved in the quantitative estimates can be found in the technical appendix here. Further, the report attempts to provide an aggregated and waste stream-specific view of the textile waste industry.

Part 3 of the report delves deeper into each waste stream value chain, while all other parts of the report provide a broader view of the sector. The value hierarchy, challenges and recommendations provided in Part 4 and Part 5 of the report are based on the subjective understanding of the field teams during the research. These findings were actively discussed and iterated based on expert consultations to provide as comprehensive a view as possible. However, these are based on the current state of the industry and are subject to change as the market dynamics and technological innovations come into play.