Latvia begins recycling clothes and other textiles

A European Union directive has mandated that textile recycling containers must be placed next to glass, cardboard and plastic containers by 2025, but a Latvian pilot program already set out 20 textile recycling points in September, according to Latvian Television's “Panorāma” broadcast on January 5.

Clean, but used clothing, shoes, bedding or plush toys can be reprocessed and used again. “It's really a problem that currently huge piles go to landfills or are burned, and can't be recycled as they're next to food. The textile gets dirty, it's wet, you can't use it any more. It's basically trash,” said “Green Liberty” Sustainable Fashion Expert Dace Akule.

Currently no Latvian regulations mention textile recycling, partly because the EU hasn't discussed it before now. Latvia and the Baltic countries currently lack textile recycling facilities for creating new products or materials.

"Hence there's currently no economic basis for even investing in that direction, there needs to be a smart plan for creating something from these materials afterwards,” said Akule.

More than 20 tons of textile have been collected so far through the pilot program containers. “We're not looking just at the Latvian market, the recycling market is global, it's happening all over the world, Latvia currently doesn't have such a facility,” said “Green Dot Latvia” Director Kaspars Zakulis.

“It depends on the volume we collect and separate, if we collect a certain volume we could possibly build a facility, and again those are taxes and jobs,” said Zakulis.

Experts admit that currently the textile collection function is partially covered by charity organizations, which collect unwanted clothes. However experience shows that people frequently don't critically evaluate what they are donating. A majority are unfortunately unusable, or even unrecyclable.

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