Transitions to CIRCULAR economy practices in TEXTILE and apparel MSMEs along the lifecycle in Huzhou and Shaoxing is a project that draws on the foundation built from successful sustainable development in the Mediterranean. Sharing knowledge and practices, support is delivered to facilitate the transition to circular economy practices in the textile and fashion industry in Huzhou City and Shaoxing City, China by 2025.Circular economy
Imagine if over half of the world’s fibre was produced in a circular economic model that favoured sustainable consumption and production (SCP). The impact this would have on the health of people and the planet is massive….and inspiring. Drawing on the success experienced in the Mediterranean, MedWaves is sending a ripple of positive momentum to new parts of the world.
SwitchAsia targets the largest global textile and apparel producer in the world, exporter of over one third of all textile and apparel export: China. The activities focus on the central concentration for the textile industry: Huzhou and Shaoxing cities located in the Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.
Due to energy-intensive textile industrial practices, these cities exceed the total energy consumption expected for the population. The wastewater discharged from production facilities in Shaoxing, host to only 8% of the province’s population, accounts for 62% of the total industry discharged wastewater in Zhejiang. Despite this overflow, less than 1% is recycled or reused.
This is a huge and avoidable environmental burden.
Applying a circular economic model stimulates a transformation capable of addressing pressures on resources and the environment. SwitchAsia facilitates this transition, aiming to realise a circular economy in the textile and fashion industry in Huzhou and Shaoxing by 2025, in line with the Chinese national 14th-Five-Year-Plan and SDG12.2 & SDG12.5. These activities also significantly contribute to the mitigation of climate change at the local level.
How does the circular economic model apply to the textile and apparel sector in China?
China has committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2060, while maintaining quality growth in its economy. As the largest global producer of textile and apparel, there is a need to stimulate a feasible, yet ambitious transition into how things are produced and consumed.
SwitchAsia targets five key interventions to stimulate a transition to a circular economy in the Huzhou and Shaoxing textile and fashion industry:
SwitchAsia prioritises guidelines, such as: reducing water and energy consumption throughout the products’ lifecycle and post-harvesting activities; implementing resource efficiency measures and promoting use of certification for products; supporting MSMEs to integrate EU and international standards for products; and promoting measures to ensure that products are designed for circularity.
Partnering with ICLEI supports high-level local policy that an strengthen the development of the cities’ climate actions through mitigation of embedded carbon in textile value chains (manufacturing phase emissions and municipal waste management). Experiences will be disseminated to other ICLEI Chinese member cities that hold textile hubs for potential replication.
The path of realising this goal is innovation. SwitchAsia focuses on delivering advanced technologies for recycled fibres and bio-based chemical fibres. These are harmonised with the standardization processes as major policy instrument to transform from linear to circular production for textile MSMEs in China.
In addition, SwitchMed values and supports the development of innovative ideas to support MSMEs resolve their circular economy challenges. Young entrepreneurs have a lot to offer as potential providers of solutions. Drawing on the success of parallel incubation programmes in the EU funded projects SwitchMed, STANDUP! and Interreg Europe (CircE), SwitchAsia is able to enhance resources, build capacity and support policy support interventions.
Women are an essential part of the SwitchAsia vision. Specific efforts are devoted to engaging them in clean production development and eco-design through training to promote the awareness and ability to adapt to the circular economy in the textile and apparel industry.
The circular textile industry action roadmaps in Huzhou and Shaoxing co-developed with European peer cities will respond positively to the call from EU Circular Economy Action Plan, upcoming EU Strategy for Textiles, and EU-China MOU on Circular Economy Cooperation. The subnational government efforts will further be linked to the European Circular Cities Declaration (making references to EU SCP Action Plan priority sectors) and the Green Circular Cities Coalition in East Asia as well as ICLEI Circulars city network for regional and global replication.
WHO WILL BENEFIT:
In addition to supporting healthier environments free from toxic wastes, SwitchAsia also benefits people. In Huzhou and Shaoxing, more than half of the people producing textile and apparel MSMEs are women. The products are exported to several million consumers in China and to other countries and regions (European Union). The SwitchAsia project engages impact investors and development financing institutions, such as China Construction Bank to support entrepreneurs, and textile associations and research institutions such as China National Textile and Apparel Council, China Association of Circular Economy, China Textiles Development Center in Beijing, and China National Institute of Standardization.
When we act together, we change together.
MedWaves: converging synergies for planetary transformation.
MedWaves supports the SwitchAsia project by leading the capacity building and technical assistance components. These activities will improve MSMEs performance in Huzhou and Shaoxing, as well as the local and national authorities’ capability to detect and improve resource efficiency in textile manufacturing process and activities.
MedWaves will participate through four main activities:
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