Recycling of textile and “green fashion” are useful and promising areas for Ukrainian businesses. This is an opportunity to diminish the amount of textile waste, to develop a new segment in industry and design, and to promote eco-lifestyle. At a press briefing in Ukraine Crisis Media Center the experts told about the European experience and provided recommendations for people who would like to start a business in this field.
Nearly six-seven per cent of all waste in Ukraine is textile, which could have been recycled instead of being stocked on multiple landfills. According to Natalia Tatarchuk, owner of the brand RUN/Met_Energy, there are only 30 small companies in Ukraine who make clothes from old clothes and recycled textile. “There are few companies, partly for the reason that we have no access to the materials. […] In the majority of cases, we have to buy it, some designers buy it in second-hand shops,” she noted.
“Textile industry has been always recycling and using the production waste in their own production. […] But our society is not used to collecting and recycling the waste. According to our data, only 3 per cent of waste is recycled, while in EU this figure is 70 per cent. Moreover, we import second-hand clothes from abroad. But nobody has tried to start a recycling business here,” noted Tetiana Izovit, president of the Ukrainian Association of Light Industry Enterprises.
European experience of “green fashion”
In Europe production of clothes from old or recycled clothes has already become a popular trend. A lot of companies and designers work in this area. Berlin is often called the center of “green fashion”, says Anna Perrote, co-founder of Green Fashion Tours Berlin (Germany). There are even fashion tours to shops selling clothes from recycled textile, as a particular type of leisure. This is brand clothes, that’s why prices are significantly higher than the prices for new clothes. For instance, a male shirt may cost EUR 150 and more. There is active cooperation between green fashion designers and textile recycling companies, such as “SOEX”. For instance, a designer can order a certain amount of cloth on favorable terms.
A Dutch company “Mud Jeans” recycles old jeans. The jeans cloth is pulled into fibers and then used to produce cloth for new jeans. “You can come and buy jeans, or rent them for a week, for a month or until the moment when you bring them back to be recycled again,” said Natalia Tatarchuk. There are similar companies in Finland, in Denmark, in other Scandinavian countries and in Asia, for instance, in China and Taiwan.
Ukraine: opportunities and perspectives
Recycling of textile as well as production of cloth from recycled textile is an ecological initiative, that’s why businesses can apply for a grant to start their project. The most available program is the EU project “Horizon 2020”. This is a six-year program that offers new grant programs every year. Businesses can apply for a grant with projects related to innovative developments, promotion of leadership of this industry, modernization etc. “This year the EU has allocated EUR 3,6 billion for programs on the development of circulation economy,” Tatarchuk noted. Companies can apply with their programs individually or in partnership with other companies. Moreover, there are companies providing consultations for those willing to apply.
One more opportunity is the initiative “European Cloth Action Plan”. “At present, Ukrainian companies cannot apply, however, they can, if they wish, learn the experience of all the research activities to optimize their logistics processes,” noted Natalia Tatarchuk. Ukrainian companies also can join the project of three Dutch companies which received a grant for development of new, more practical models of clothes made of recyclable textile, or take a credit of European Investment Bank, or EBRD. Companies who need to buy innovative equipment can address the Ukrainian Center for Resource Efficient and Clean Production. “They have extensive experience of work with grant programs and can advise where and how to buy good equipment. You can cover about 80 per cent of your expenditures on the equipment, using the available funds,” she added.
Natalia Tatarchuk noted that the majority of European entrepreneurs, as it turned out, haven’t thought about Ukraine as a potential partner in textile recycling industry. But if Ukrainian businesses will come up with ideas, it may result in “win-win” projects. To find the partners abroad, Ukrainian companies can contact the Danish NGO “Danish Lifestyle Cluster”. In addition, this NGO provides consultations on modernization, entry to new markets and find funds for promising projects.