NEWS SEARCH RESULTS ( 1 - 6 from 6 )

Don’t lose the thread – new technologies to make textiles circular

17 July 2019

Fast fashion is in the way of the transition to a circular economy – in a recent report the British organization WRAP estimated that around £140-million (€ 163 million) worth of clothing is sent to landfill every year in the UK alone. causing CO2 emissions, resource depletion, and pollution, in the production process as well as in the disposal stage.

In a past edition of Sector Watch, we have reported about the Dutch waste management organization Circulus Berkel and their recently opened textile sorting facility that has a strong focus on the sustainable and social reuse and recycling of textiles.

In the interview, Michiel Westerhoff, director of Circulus Berkel, stresses one of the major challenges for the textile sector to become sustainable and circular: Textiles today are not produced for recycling. They contain a mix of synthetic and organic materials, such a polyester and cotton, which improves wearing comfort but makes the material hard to recycle.

The use of polyester in the textile industry has risen from 8.3 million tonnes to 21.3 million, which equals a rise of 175%. These numbers illustrate how crucial it has become for the textile industry to develop better recycling techniques. Most of the mixed material products are still going to landfill or incineration, burdening the environment while becoming unavailable as a new resource.

Innovations in the textile industry are on the way to change this problem and to come up with recycling technologies that allow businesses, including SMEs, to recycle mixed material textiles.

The ‘Tex2Mat’ project is developing a technology that makes use of an enzymatic process, combining mechanic and biochemical separation techniques. The process separates the polyester based components of the textiles from the cellulose, cotton based components. The goal is to make the polyester available for reuse in the textile industry at high quality levels.

Other projects, such as the Relooping Fashion project, have developed techniques to recover the cellulose used in cotton based textiles and reuse it for new textiles while maintaining the quality of the material.

London based startup Worn again technologies has also developed a recycling process that recovers polymers from polyester based textiles. As the company claims, with this technology they are able to separate, decontaminate and extract polyester polymers and cellulose (from cotton) from non-reusable textiles and make them ready to be reused in textile production.

In true circular economy fashion, recycling textiles must come second to designing them to last, reducing overall consumption, and to improving reusability before recyclability. But until all fashion follows these principles, promising recycling techniques can help to recover material that would otherwise get lost in landfills and incinerators.

Let's take a closer look: performance in public procurement across the EU

10 July 2019

The European Commission published the annual report on Monitoring the Application of EU law, which outlines how the Commission monitored and enforced EU law in 2018. Part of the report is the online Single Market Scoreboard, which evaluates the performance of EU/EEA countries in the EU single market. Depending on their 2018 performance across the key policy areas, Member States were given 153 green, 137 yellow and 59 red cards indicating excellent (green), average (yellow) or below average (red) performance.

One of the key policy areas is public procurement. Taking a closer look at the analysis of procurement performance show the scoring of member states with regards to 12 indicators. For example, measuring the proportion of procurement procedures with more than one public buyer - meaning how often public buyers buy together. Buying in bulk often leads to better prices and offers an opportunity to exchange knowledge. Although not all types of purchase are suitable for joint procurement, excessively low rates suggest lost opportunities. ICLEI together with Eurocities runs the Big Buyers Initiative with the aim to boost collaboration between big public buyers towards more strategic public procurement. 

The scoring analysis also took into account the proportion of procedures awarded only on the basis of lowest price i.e. how public buyers choose the companies they award contracts to. In particular, whether they decide based on price alone, or if they also take quality into account. Award criteria offer a suitable entry point to leverage, for example, certain environmental standards. From the perspective of sustainable procurement or green procurement needs to and can change from the lowest price to the most economical advantageous price, which takes into account the full life-cycle costs. Find out more in ICLEI's Procura+ Manual.

An additional indicator focussed on how many contractors are small and medium-sized enterprises – SMEs. High percentages are desirable, in order to reflect their share in the economy, whereas low percentages could indicate barriers preventing smaller firms from participating in procurement procedures. A recent survey published by the Commission showed that 73,5% of PCP contracts are won by SMEs, emphasising that pre-commercial procurement and innovation procurement can help boost the performance under the SME indicator. ICLEI works on a variety of projects across Europe to accelerate the uptake of innovation in procurement such as Procure2Innovate. Find out more here.  

Get the full analysis of public procurement performance here.
Access the fact sheets per country here.

Only one month left to apply for the 2019 Transformative Action Award

8 July 2019

With only one month left before applications close, don’t miss your chance to win €10,000 and become recognised as a leader of sustainable urban transformation with the 2019 Transformative Action Award.

The award, co-organised by ICLEI, the Basque Country, and the City of Aalborg (Denmark) and supported by the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) rewards ongoing or concluded Transformative Actions that use the 15 pathways outlined in the Basque Declaration to bring about the socio-cultural, socio-economic, and technological transformation of societies.

Actions under the following topic areas are welcomed: decarbonisation, urban mobility, biodiversity, greenfield land and natural space, water resources and air quality, climate change, public space, housing, social inclusion and integration, and local economies and employment.

The competition is open to any local or regional authority or civil society organisation located in an EU Member State, EEA country, or EU candidate or accession country. Applicants must be endorsers of the Basque Declaration. The application deadline is 31 July 2019.

For more information and to learn more about how to endorse the Basque Declaration and apply for the Award, click here.

Climate killer plastic?

2 July 2019

It is beyond clear that we need to address climate change at a global scale. Many have criticized that the transition to a circular economy requires large amounts of energy – the emissions of which cancel out environmental gains of reducing resource consumption and waste. Are waste reduction and the fight against the climate crisis competing goals – or maybe even best allies?

Landfilling and open dumping of solid household waste are associated with the highest amount of GHG emissions due to anaerobic digestion of organic material. This methane released is one of the most potent climate greenhouse gasses and reducing it is paramount to fighting GHG emissions in the waste sector. For this reason, many countries have or will phase out landfilling entirely.

With organic matter a well-known culprit, what about other sources of waste? The adverse impacts of plastic pollution have been discussed at length and public awareness about the issue is rising together with some tangible action from politics and the economy. The effect of plastic on the climate is far less obvious to many.

A recent study by scholar from UC Santa Barbara on plastic’s carbon footprint has shed light on this question.  All in all, the emissions from plastics in 2015 were equivalent to nearly 1.8 billion metric tons of CO2. Over half of the CO2 emissions in the plastic life cycle are related to emission during production. A total switch to renewable energy sources during the entire production process would result in a 51% reduction of GHG emissions in the plastic production chain.

When looking forward, global waste is expected to grow to 3.40 billion tonnes by 2050, more than double population growth over the same period. Daily per capita waste generation in high-income countries is projected to increase by 19 percent by 2050, compared to low- and middle-income countries where it is expected to increase by approximately 40% or more. With these numbers in mind, it is clear that waste generation needs to be tackled at the source, but GHG emission need to become a priority along the entire value chain, with recycling posing only a suboptimal solution in terms of GHG emissions.

Copper with a Cost - how procurement can help

2 July 2019

A recent report published by Swedwatch showcases findings from an investigation on human rights risks and impacts associated with large-scale mining of copper in Zambia, one of the largest copper producing and exporting countries in the world. As mineral, copper is an essential component of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) products, such as smartphones and laptops.

In 2011, the public sectors of 29 European countries procured 50.3 billion EUR in ICT goods and services. Public procurement holds significant buying power, giving opportunity to shape the market with regards to implementation and monitoring of social and environmental standards.
However, the report outlines that ICT supply chains are characterised by low transparency and traceability. As ICT involves many business intermediaries, from mineral extraction to finished product, it is challenging for public authorities to know the source of minerals present in their ICT devices and if they are associated with conflict and human rights impacts.

Swedwatch's report titled 'Copper with a Cost' emphasises two main issues based on their research in Zambia: 1) mining activities detrimentally impacted local communities’ right to clean water and health as well as their livelihoods and 2) following the establishment of a new mine livelihood restoration has been insufficient and community members face impacts on their food security, as well as disturbance of social structures and norms.

Swedwatch’s findings suggest that there is a need for the ICT sector as a whole to enhance human rights due diligence efforts beyond the scope of 3TG and cobalt and include copper and other high-risk materials. Furthermore, the report outlines recommendations to e.g. companies along the supply-chain but also to contracting authorities within the European Union:

  • Include social criteria in public procurement processes and contracts for ICT products.
  • Criteria should ensure that suppliers perform effective human rights due diligence within their mineral supply chains of ICT products, in line with international standards and best practice.
  • Monitor suppliers’ compliance with the requirements closely and collaborate with other contracting authorities to build leverage.

Directive 2014/24/EU on public procurement contains an expanded set of provisions relating to Socially Responsible Public Procurement (SRPP). The directive enables public buyers to use social and environmental criteria in public tenders. As part of the Make ICT Fair project, 5 public authorities such as Region Stockholm, Barcelona City Council, Municipality of Haarlem, Advanced Procurement for Universities and Colleges (APUC) and London are pioneering criteria and clauses on social responsibility in ICT tenders. Get to know more here.

Explore the full report by Swedwatch.
As public authority consider affliation to Electronics Watch and participation in the Procura+ European Sustainable Procurement Network.

Launching the Procura+ Africa Network: a milestone towards SPP in Africa

1 July 2019

Last week at the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum, ICLEI Africa launched the Procura+ Africa Network. This is a major step toward supporting African local governments to work together to reap the benefits of sustainable public procurement (SPP). The network was founded with the goal to increase and deepen implementation of SPP in South Africa. Working together, the members of the network can learn from each other’s good practices in SPP and cities are able to further the implementation of SPP at higher political levels. It is also envisioned to facilitate joint procurements and increased collaboration with market parties and research institutions.

Representatives from African cities were invited during the launch to join the network to learn from each other and share best practices to implement sustainable public procurement, benefitting the economy, the environment, and the society.

The founding members of the Procura+ Africa Network include:

The Procura+ Africa Network is one of three regional Procura+ networks established by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, therefore connecting cities in Africa with a strong global community of local governments implementing sustainable public procurement. This will take place through in-person meetings, webinars, and where possible study tours for focused in-person learning.

The City of Tshwane is proud to be the first chair of the Procura+ Africa Network for the year 2019/2020, with ICLEI Africa as the secretariat supporting this important initiative.