Not wanting to be caught napping as key textile markets, specifically the EU, begin to adopt strategies to shift to sustainable and recyclable textiles, the government has initiated work on drafting policies to make India a global hub for sourcing sustainable and circular textiles and garments.

“The Textiles Ministry is set to start the mapping of the textile waste value chain in India with the aim to position the country as a global hub for circular textiles. It seeks to do so by establishing textile recycling clusters, and has floated a request for proposal (RFP) to hire a consulting agency for the same,” a source tracking the matter said.

The study, to be carried out by the selected consulting agency, will provide an overview of the regulatory framework on circularity in major export destinations and competitor countries that could have an impact on India’s exports of textiles, according to the RFP.

It is estimated that the extent of textile-to-textile waste recycling is less than 1 per cent.

Circularity aims to shift from the “take-make-dispose” linear value chain into a circular system, where materials are not lost after use but remain in the economy, circulating as long as possible at the highest possible value, according to the United Nations Environment Programme.

The EU, one of India’s largest markets for textiles and garments, has come up with the `EU strategy for sustainable and circular textiles’ under which by 2030 all textile products placed on the EU market have to be durable, repairable, and recyclable. They will, to a great extent, have to be made of recycled fibres, free of hazardous substances, produced in respect of social rights and the environment, as per the strategy.

Other developed markets, including Japan, too, are examining the enforcement of circularity in textiles.

“If India does not make plans for a gradual shift to circular textiles, it may lose its well-established markets in the near future. The proposed mapping of textiles waste value chain in India is aimed at encouraging recycling so that the demands of the future can be met,” the source said.

The government hopes to more than double India’s textiles exports to $100 billion over the next 5-6 years.