Project Extra Life Takes on India’s Textile Trash

founders, gurashish singh sahni & rahul nainani

The textile industry produces a staggering 92 million tons of waste each year, enough to fill 24,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. (Credit: ReCircle)

by | Jun 7, 2024

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The global textile industry is a significant contributor to environmental degradation, generating approximately 92 million tons of waste annually and is a major source of industrial water pollution in India. Addressing this critical issue, ReCircle, a leading clean-tech resource recovery innovator, has launched Project Extra Life to combat India’s textile waste problem and promote a circular economy.

Circular Textile Waste Management

ReCircle’s Project Extra Life has introduced a comprehensive circular textile waste management system to add to its existing waste management services. The initiative aims to collect, sort, and recycle at least 570 metric tons (MT) of textile waste over the next 12 months. Targeting over 100,000 institutions, including fashion houses, textile businesses, hospitality giants, educational institutions, brands, offices, factories, and households, ReCircle seeks to close the loop on textile waste.

Since its launch in April 2024, Project Extra Life has partnered with various businesses to recover textile waste and organized textile waste collection drives in Mumbai for consumer participation. ReCircle offers tailored solutions for both large manufacturers and small businesses to manage textile waste efficiently. Nationwide participation options and custom plans are available for bulk contributions, with facilities to deliver waste directly to ReCircle’s Advanced Material Recovery Facility (MRF) in Mumbai.

Businesses and institutions can engage with ReCircle through several channels:

Direct Contributions: Businesses with more than 10 tons of textile waste can deliver it to ReCircle’s MRF in Dahisar, Mumbai.
Collection Drives: Institutions can set up textile waste collection drives with support from ReCircle.
Take-back Programs: Fashion houses and textile businesses can collaborate with ReCircle to manage production waste and establish take-back programs for customers, focusing on post-consumer textiles to maximize value capture.

Processing and Recycling

ReCircle collects various materials, including cotton, wool, polyester, acrylic, synthetic fibers, nylon, denim, and silk. ReCircle’s Safai Saathis (waste workers) evaluate the collected waste for reusability at the MRF. Irreparable textiles are sent to recycling partners in Surat and Panipat, where they are processed into recycled yarn. The garments then embark on one of four paths:

Rewear: Items that can be worn again.
Revamp: Items needing minor repairs.
Recycle: Items nearing the end of their life cycle.
Relife: Unusable items converted into energy.

Technological Interventions and Impact

ReCircle’s optimized textile reverse logistics leverages data to enhance supply chain visibility, reduce costs and waste, and improve brand sentiment. By fostering the formalization and mainstreaming of the textile waste value chain, ReCircle aims to create a closed-loop textile industry. Project Extra Life plans to integrate micro-entrepreneurship, generating 80-100 indirect jobs for waste workers and significantly impacting lives and livelihoods.

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