China announces textile recycling targets


China has reportedly announced a plan to be recycling a quarter of the country’s textile waste into two million tonnes of new fibre a year by 2025 as part of its climate change targets.

The country sees the move as part of its bid to peak its carbon emissions by the end of the decade and become carbon neutral by 2060 – a decade later than the United Nations’s (UN) net zero target.

A document jointly published by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Ministry of Industry and Information Technology and Ministry of Commerce said the aim was to have a waste textile recycling system “initially established” by 2025, according to the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Entitled ‘Implementation Opinions on Accelerating the Recycling of Waste Textiles’, the document says that by 2030 the government hopes to achieve a recycling rate of 30 per cent for waste textiles, producing three million tonnes of recycled fibre annually.

“With the continuous improvement in people’s living standards, more and more used clothing [is being put to waste], and the problem of recycling textile waste has become increasingly prominent.”

Zhao added that the new document was expected to promote the development of a resource and waste material recycling industry and held “great significance” in helping China achieve its carbon goals.

However, the NDRC says that China was already recycling 20 per cent of its 22 million tonnes of textile waste in 2020, producing around 1.5 million tonnes of recycled fibre.

Measures outlined in the document include promoting green and low-carbon production in the textile industry, improving China’s recycling network, promoting the comprehensive re-use of textile waste, and measure to increase awareness of the importance of recycling.

The UN says that to keep global warming to no more than 1.5°C – as called for in the Paris Agreement – emissions need to be reduced by 45 per cent by 2030 and reach net zero by 2050.