The recycling process for secondary quality jeans has been consolidated thanks to a pilot recycling initiative which has proven its success in Tunisia.
Swedish denim brand Nudie Jeans has entered into a partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as part of the EU-funded SwitchMed initiative, which aims to transform secondary quality jeans ( which have slight defects such as discoloration from washing, inconsistent tailoring or embroidery or an irregular fit) into new jeans.
SwitchMed recently reported that the pilot initiative was able to transform 6,530 pairs of secondary-grade jeans into 16,000 new pairs with 20% recycled cotton content. The jeans produced under the pilot project are now available for sale in select Nudie Jeans stores and online.
Textile waste is a problem all over the world, particularly in Tunisia, where UNIDO estimates that the textile and clothing industry generates more than 31,000 tons of textile waste each year, more than half of which is made up of 100% cotton or cotton-rich waste that can be recycled. However, transporting this waste to recycling facilities in Europe and/or Asia could be more dangerous than beneficial, as transport leads to an increase in both carbon footprint and prices. Thus, switching to local recycling can help position Tunisia as an international HUB for sustainable denim.
It should be noted that the recycling of post-industrial waste represents an opportunity of 350 billion dollars from which Tunisia should benefit. In the next phases, the recycling program will enter its second phase focusing on the use of offcuts. Moreover, UNIDO aims, by 2023, to duplicate this experience with other partners in Morocco and Egypt.