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Knowledge category: Papers and reports

Circular Economy in the Textile Sector – Study for the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Updated on 26.06.2023

This report examines options for establishing closed fibre cycles in the clothing and fashion industry. It provides a detailed background analysis on fibre cycles in Europe and Germany, describes the biggest drivers and obstacles and evaluates selected technologies for textile fibre recycling.

Author: Morton Hemkhaus, Jürgen Hannak, Peter Malodobry, Tim Jansen, Nora Sophie Griefahn, and Christina Linke
Year of publication: 2019

More information

The concept of circular economy is becoming increasingly important in the textile industry. This analysis is based on an in-depth literature review, paired with findings from a focus group session conducted as part of the Cradle to Cradle (C2C) International Congress 2018. In addition, more than 20 experts working in the textile sector shared their candid views for the analysis. The study was commissioned by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), but mentions clearly that the in-depth analysis and solutions are also applicable to EU countries.

Relevance for Circular Systemic Solutions

The report outlines the conceptual implications for a circular textile sector, presents the status quo of implementing a circular textiles industry at the EU level, assesses innovative recycling technologies, and discusses challenges and potential solutions for the transformation to a circular textile sector. The report provides the challenges and barriers for a transition towards circular textiles, and provides solutions and best practices. Public authorities could put these solutions into practice to address barriers. Some examples of solutions that can be put into practice by local and regional authorities are making campaigns on consumer awareness and integrating learning modules on circular economy in secondary/higher education or implementing strategies to overcome challenges in recycling technologies. Strategies, recycling techniques and frameworks for circular business models for the textiles industry are all presented in the annexes of this report. Public authorities can use the information presented in this report to raise awareness amongst consumers, and to draw inspiration from the solutions and best practices presented in this report to design and implement Circular Systemic Solutions for the textiles industry.


CEAP2 key product value chain

e.g. electrical engineering, furniture and interior, textile and fashion

e.g. B2B services

e.g. healthcare

Territories involved

large 500 000-200 000, medium 200 000-50 000, and small cities 50 000-5 000

large metropolitan area >1.5 million, metropolitan area 1.5 million-500 000

predominantly urban regions, intermediate and predominantly rural regions, refer to TERCET typology NUTS 3 region