Webinar Monday 23rd of October 2023 08:30-11:00

Both the volumes of textile waste and the interest in what to do with it, are growing. Fortunately, knowledge about what textile waste consists of is also growing, as is the interest in regulating the sector.

In this webinar, we will summarize several recent reports on textile waste in Norway and other countries, as well as a report that examines whether environmental strategies take seriously the fact that if the textiles are to be used up, then less must be produced.
The clothes we dispose of are often used – but far from used up.

We ask:
– How can discarded textiles be used in the best possible way to ensure new use, and what kind of knowledge enables us to reduce the amount of used but not used up textiles?
– How much textiles, especially synthetics, are disposed of in Norway? What do wasted textiles consist of, and why and how are they disposed of?
– Which regulatory measures will can be implemented in order to reduce the volumes of textile waste?

This is a dissemination seminar under the Wasted Textiles research project at SIFO, Oslomet, funded by the Research Council of Norway and the Norwegian Retailers Environment Fund.

The webinar will be held in English.


Registration and coffee for those who attend physically

Moderator: Jens Måge, Advisor, Avfall Norge

Plastic – The elephant in the room: Who dares to talk about it?
Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Professor, Oslo Metropolitan University – SIFO

Waste analysis in the Wasted Textiles project
Frode Syversen, CEO, Mepex | Kristiane Rabben, Advisor, Mepex Consult AS

Method for Picking Analyses of Textiles – REdu Wasted Textiles Summer Project 2023
Saeid Sheikhi, MSc student in Information Systems and Business Analytics, Høgskolen Kristiania | Siri Vestengen, Masterstudent Economics, Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet (NTNU) | Camilla Sunde, MSc in Informatics: Digital Economics and Leadership, Universitetet i Oslo (UiO) | Eva Valborg Hovda Masterstudent Material Science, Norges teknisk-naturvitenskapelige universitet (NTNU)

Dutch experiences with waste analyzes on textiles – reflections on the types of brands found.
Hilde van Duijn, Head of Global Value Chains, Circle Economy Foundation

Experiences from picking analysis in Svalbard
Henrik Lystad, CEO Norwaste

Coffee break

How can a producer responsibility scheme be set up to reduce environmental impact?
Dina Lingås, Consultant, NORION Consult

Questions and discussion

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EU wants data on textile waste, and we have the answer

Text by Tone Skårdal Tobiasson

The proposal for the Waste Framework Directive, which is currently being read and analyzed by a myriad of companies, NGOs, researchers, policy-makers and interested citizens throughout Europe, handles two major consumer ‘goods’: Textiles and food. We are mainly concerned with the former, however, we have found that food offers us two good guiding principles.

The first one is to eat up what is on your plate. The second is waste audits as a means to gain meaningful knowledge on what gets “eaten up” and what doesn’t. In three separate documents, we ask the EU to heed these two guiding principles and apply them to apparel and other textiles.

One of the documents is our feedback on the textile part of the Waste Framework Directive (read the document here), where the authors have concrete recommendations for ensuring that the policy measures in the WFD can actually contribute to the EU’s ambition of putting fast fashion out of fashion. Currently, the Duration of Service is what is lacking in the available data (how long apparel has been in use and to what level the apparel and textile waste is ‘used up’ ), but even if the background document (#4) states “There is currently no sound method of estimating textile waste (collected and discarded in mixed municipal waste)”, this is just not true. And the two other papers elaborate on exactly this point. Waste audits/waste composition studies – which are very much used when gaining data on food waste – and wardrobe studies – are well-developed methods.

The document Status for developing methods for using waste as a resource for knowledge about the use phase of clothing (read the document here), offers an overview of exactly the current status for these methods, while the document USED, BUT NOT USED UP: Using textile waste to inform textile rating schemes (read the document here) explores how the data-collection methodology using waste audits can underpin several policy measures, such as the Product Environmental Footprint Category Rules, Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR), Labelling and Digital Product Passport (DPP), the Green claims directive, as well as EPR and the WFD. We have called the ongoing waste audit method for Targeted Producer Responsibility (TPR), as we originally saw it as a more effective means for levelling a EPR fee, using the Duration of Service as the measuring stick. However, we also now have realized that taking the waste as the point of departure, has many other ramifications that can be leveraged.

The cut-off point for feedback to the WFD keeps being postponed, but we encourage everyone to respond, as a functioning EPR scheme which actually takes the waste hierarchy seriously, can be reality, if we use waste audits as the basis for eco-modulating the fee. What we urgently need is for companies to add the date of production or when the product goes to market to the brand label. Then we can look both upstream, and downstream, from the time apparel and other textiles enter the different waste streams.

Regulating Fast Fashion out of Fashion

Authors: Ingun Grimstad Klepp and Kerli Kant Hvass


Among sustainable fashion and textile themes, product durability has recently come into focus within EU policy making. The dominant understanding is that increased textile lifespan will reduce environmental impacts, but this intrinsic link is not supported by research. The volume of clothing produced poses the greatest environmental burdens. Increased clothes availability leads to longer lifespan due to reduced utilization. To reduce the environmental impact of increased textile volumes measures should be expanded to encompass not only product design, life-prolonging, and end-of-life strategies, but also the volume of products to market. This concept paper contributes to the debate on how to address the growing amount of textile waste by applying the knowledge gained from consumer research regarding clothing use and proposing a regulatory measure called Targeted Producer Responsibility (TPR). The central method of TPR is waste analyses which relies on actual use – or non-use – of products as the starting point for eco-modulated fees. TPR reverses EPR and uses waste for overproduction knowledge, thus proposing a tool that can potentially reduce the total environmental impact of textiles.

Click here to download and read the full article.

Click here to download and read the full conference proceedings (

The plastic elephant in the room: Who dares to talk about it?

In the Consumption Research Norway SIFO report The plastic elephant: Overproduction and synthetic fibers in sustainable textile strategies we examine national, international and corporate strategies for sustainable textiles to understand whether, and if so, how they include the problem of increased production volumes based on synthetic materials that can be referred to as the ‘plastic elephant in the room’.

”It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room.” This is a quote from the 2014 GFA Fashion Summit in Copenhagen, when Livia Firth, founder of the consultancy EcoAge and the Green Carpet Challenge, was on a panel with H&M. She challenged the growth issue where “fast fashion brands justify growth by saying that it is the consumers who demand the wide selection and diversity of fashion styles today”. Firth responded to this claim made by H&M’s Helena Helmersson by saying that her children want candy all the time but that does not mean they should have it, and that as a parent she has “a responsibility in addressing this want”.

In order to find out whether different strategies take seriously the connection between overproduction and the enormous growth in the consumption of clothing and textiles, and the increase in the use of synthetic materials, we asked four questions to the strategies. First, we looked at whether the strategies discuss growth in production volumes and possible measures to stop this growth. Second, we examined whether they address the plastification of textiles. By plastification, we mean the increasing share of plastic fibres used for textile production. Third, we exmined whether they discuss the raw material for plastics, and fourth, plastic waste. The results show that none of these questions that can reduce the environmental impacts of clothing production are given a central role in the strategies. There were three types of strategies that were examined: policy, industry and NGOs’ sustainability strategies.

Important findings

The most interesting findings are related to the reduction of the use of synthetic fibres – the plastification. This is the question that receives the overall lowest scores: none of the strategies present clear, direct measures to halt plastification, though some of the public policymakers indirectly include such a goal, through goals of substituting fossil raw materials in the production with other materials, including bioplastics. Without stating how this tendency is to be reversed, the strategies raise concerns over the increasing volumes of fossil raw materials used in textile production. It is also suggested that synthetic fibres have important qualities that are needed and the strategy of substituting virgin plastics with recycled plastics is particularly present in the strategies of the industry stakeholders.

The Plastic Elephant is a part of the project Wasted Textiles, the goal of which is precisely to reduce the use of synthetic textiles and the amount that goes to waste. It is situated right at the core of the project’s goal and of course, the project is also the reason why our elephant is synthetic textiles (i.e., plastic). At the same time, we are building on work from three other ongoing projects at Consumption Research Norway (SIFO): CHANGE – about quantity, LASTING – about lifetime and REDUCE – about plastics in everyday life; and we thank our good colleagues from all the three projects for fruitful conversations as well as heated debates. We thank in particular Kirsi Laitala, Marie Hebrok, Harald Throne-Holst, Irene Maldini, Kate Fletcher and Kerli Kant Hvass for their thorough reading of the report and constructive comments.

The full report can be downloaded here.

Garbage talk: Easily outdated, but difficult to date

Text by Tone Skårdal Tobiasson

The results from the Wasted Textiles pilot study, executed by four Master-students Camilla Sunde (UiO), Eva Hovda (NTNU), Siri Vestengen (NTNU) and Saeid Sheikhi (Høyskolen Kristiania) has now been published. Avfall Norge and their summer program REdu, were able to get the pilot financed by The Norwegian Retail Environmental Fund, and the results from the pilot where the four students tested out a system for picking analysis that captures vital information on the textiles that mainly had status as garbage is presented in the report.

The analysis conducted in Slemmestad Mepex-center offers valuable insights into the current status of discarded textiles in Norway. The “TPR” (named for the Targeted Producer Responsibility idea) picking analysis results provide us with information regarding the composition of fibres, garment age, country of production, and brand details of the discarded textiles. This data was taken from the care labels on the products. Over a period of 13 days, the team successfully managed to analyze a total of 3024 items using the TPR picking analysis method that they fine-tuned based on a combination of wardrobe studies and classic waste picking analysis.

Picking analyzes are used for other product groups to say something about use. In food, this form of analysis is used to monitor how much edible food is thrown away from private households (see e.g., this study ( and to monitor and reduce food waste from institutions. The textiles analysed in the report originated from various waste streams: Mepex’s “Klesbyttedag” (clothing swap day), TRV (Trondheim city pilot project on collecting textiles) and residual waste. Residual waste is the hardest to work with because of smell and humidity making it difficult to weigh the items. In the report, the TRV waste is the largest and most important, representing 91.4 % of the material. Textiles from TRV-pilot are supposed to be damaged textiles. Residents of the pilot area in Trondheim were given instructions and special bags for damaged textiles, clothing and shoes. Residents are encouraged to deliver usable textiles to collection boxes already located in the area and to put the bag with destroyed textiles outside for collection on a fixed day, every four weeks. The interns photographed all the items, gave each textile item a number, and registered information on if the brand could be identified if the care label was intact if there was a year of production or when the product entered the market anywhere on the textile, country of origin, fibre-composition, what state of ‘used up-ness’ the items were in, the weight, etc.

The findings in the REdu project, are based on a small sample, 3024 items all in all. 2564 of 3024 items (the total registered) had the brand present either on the label or a logo visible. 708 distinct brands were identified, but a few dominated, H&M being in the lead, followed by Cubus, Lindex and KappAhl. Out of the 3025 analysed textiles only 95 items had the year of production on their care labels, 2905 did not include this information. Of these clothing pieces 14 of them were from NameIt (a Danish children’s brand), 7 from Vero Moda, 7 from Selected – all three Bestseller brands, and 6 of them were from Bik Bok. For the remaining individual brands, 61 items were with a production year. Some brands have labels with codes that may or may not contain this information, that they would need to explain. Some brands said they are willing to help with this information.

The progress in the TPR picking analysis time efficiency showcases the potential for applying picking analysis and the time it might require. In the TPR approach, they utilised several input parameters and managed to analyse an average of 234 items per day, equivalent to around 79 kg. On the other hand, the “fast TPR method” employed fewer input parameters while still capturing details for each item. With this approach, the average number of items examined within a 30-minute span is 29, equal to 7.6 kg per person. The time used to analyze was affected by the different textiles analysed, whereas multilayer and complicated multi-fibre items were more time-consuming.

In assessing the potential of machine learning in textile waste management, the results are promising, but not without challenges. The initial model focusing on textile type classification achieved significant accuracy, with an accuracy of 82.25 %, emphasizing the practicality of using automation for sorting textiles. However, the usability classification model highlighted the need for comprehensive and quality data inputs to predict an item’s reuse potential. While machine learning presents great promise in enhancing sorting efficiency, determining reusability, and promoting fibre-to-fibre recycling, its successful deployment hinges on several factors. These include the expansion and quality improvement of datasets, the integration of advanced sensing technologies, and a broader assessment of environmental, economic, and social impacts.  Ethical considerations are paramount, especially in ensuring that machine learning models operate effectively and ethically. By partnering with Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes, feedback loops between producers and waste management can be optimized.

The data gathered from the examined items highlights the possibility of reusing materials in the textile sector that the consumers themselves deem as garbage.  Assessing the level of wear and tear in clothing was relatively easy, factors like pilling, stains, discolouration, damaged zippers, missing buttons, holes, and general signs of use are easy to spot and register. A majority of the items were in a good usability state, where 42% of the textiles scored a condition of 4 (5 being the highest score indicating mint condition, while 1 is not at all reusable), suggesting that the discarded textiles were not “used up”. Also, 21 items were found with their price tags still attached. While some items displayed minor damages, many of these can be fixed effortlessly at home, pointing towards the value of imparting basic repair skills to consumers.  Notably, 17.66% of items had a maximum usability score of 5, indicating a considerable number of nearly new items being discarded. We will remind the reader there that these were supposed to be worn out or «broken» items, as fully usable textiles were supposed to be donated in the donation boxes.  

The data obtained from this analysis holds significant importance in comprehending the possibilities of automated sorting, material reuse, and recycling. It provides a foundation for introducing strategic methods like extended producer responsibility (EPR) and policies focused on waste prevention. Hopefully, the TPR picking analysis can be used to assess eco-modulated environmental fees in an EPR scheme, aiming to ultimately decrease excessive textile production in the fast fashion sector. In 2022, 105 913 tonnes of new textiles which are equivalent to 19.3 kg per capita, were put on the Norwegian market, so future data collection is not in danger of not having materials to study, once textile waste will be collected separately from 2025.

Click here to read the full report (

REdu result seminar

Friday the 11th of August 2023, 09:00-10:00, Oslo/Zoom.

Four intern students in the Avfall Norge REdu project have worked on the SIFO proposal for TPR (read more about this here), and will present the results from this work at 9 am CET on August 11th via Zoom. We are eagerly awaiting these results, as this is the first time we will get answers to if the textiles that end up in various waste streams can be identified by brand, if we can estimate how long their duration of service has been and in what state they are for reuse or recycling.

The seminar is free and open to all, and can be accessed by clicking on this zoom-link. The meeting ID is 828 0060 9300.


Both Wasted Textiles and the REdu picking analysis project are financed by the Norwegian Retail Environmental Fund.

THE PLASTIC ELEPHANT: Overproduction and synthetic fibres in sustainable textile strategies

Authors: Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Lisbeth Løvbak Berg, Anna Schytte Sigaard, Tone Skårdal Tobiasson and
Lea Gleisberg


In this report, we examine national, international and corporate strategies for sustainable textiles to understand if and how they embrace the increased production volumes based on synthetic materials, which can be referred to as the ‘plastic elephant in the room’. This is done through a lens of four questions. First, we look at whether the strategies discuss growth in production volumes and possible measures to stop this growth. Second, we examine whether they address the plastification of textiles. By plastification, we mean the increasing share of plastic fibres used for textile production. Third, whether they discuss the raw material for plastics, and fourth, plastic waste. The results show that none of these questions that can reduce the environmental impacts of clothing production are given a central role in the strategies.

Click here to read the full report.

Ecodesign position paper: Textiles and footwear

In a position paper from the Change and Wasted Textile projects, authors Kate Fletcher, Irene Maldini, Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Kirsi Laitala, Jens Måge and Tone Skårdal Tobiasson have addressed the background document from EU’s Joint Research Centre on Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR).

The main theme in the position paper, is that the JRC document Preliminary study on new product priorities lays the basis to increase environmental burdens rather than reduce these. Therefore, in the paper, the authors ask that the work with the ESPR incorporates more empirical understanding about ecodesign, clothing consumption, and textile and fashion design. This in order that the directive will have the effect of reduced environmental burdens (including on climate) and will minimize inappropriate or unintended side effects.

The aim in writing the paper is to support the ESPR process for textiles and footwear in fostering deep and lasting environmental change.

The authors applaud the efforts of the EU in regulating the textile and footwear sector and agree in the priority that has been assigned to clothing and footwear on the bases of high consumption volumes in the EU, potential environmental improvements, and lack of previous regulation. However, it is the view of the authors that the current work with the Ecodesign Directive is based on some assumptions that are not in line with the knowledge that is there, nor is it targeted towards the main and interconnected challenges in clothing and textiles: overproduction and the increasing plasticization of the material content of products.

These two factors are interconnected due to the fact that an increase in production is not possible without the cheap, easily available fossil fuel-based raw material for fibres, materials, dyes and other processing chemicals.

It is therefore questionable whether textiles and footwear should actually be the initial priority for ESPR. Perhaps starting with cement would be better.

Microplastics or microfibers: Does anyone really get what this is about?

OPINION: What we do know, is that all synthetic clothing and materials, sooner or later, will become microplastics, a «time-delayed» pollution bomb. And thus, they will ultimately become a problem for seabirds, and us.

A new report on microfibers in waterways is gaining attention, as it claims the results show more natural fibers than synthetic ones, and therefore demonizing microplastics is wrong. However, a very recent study on the intestines of seabirds gives a different conclusion: Fossil-based particles do cause harm.

The recent report from The Microfibre Consortium (TMC), together with the Norwegian Research Center/NORCE has analyzed samples taken along the coast of Kenya and Tanzania, and found that of 2403 textile fibers in the water, 55 per cent were of natural origin, 37 per cent were synthetic and 8 per cent viscose/rayon-based.

To read this op ed, written by Professor Ingun Grimstad Klepp, Founder of Fibershed, Rebecca Burgess and journalist and writer Tone Skårdal Tobiasson, follow this link.

Want Not, Waste Not: Preliminary findings

Author: Anna Schytte Sigaard


This project note presents preliminary findings from a PhD project looking into textile waste from Norwegian households. 28 households collected textiles that they would have otherwise discarded for a period of six months. The textiles were collected by the PhD candidate during visits to the households where qualitative interviews were carried out. Then, all textiles were registered along with information from the interviews. The findings indicate that most of the discarded textiles are clothes and shoes. However, when broken down into textile categories, household textiles represent the largest group of discarded textiles. In addition, findings show that about one third of the collected textiles were in a very good condition, either like new or with only minor changes. The fiber content of the textiles corresponded with the preliminary findings from work package 2 in Wasted Textiles, as there was an equal distribution between 100% synthetic textiles, 100% non-synthetic textiles and textiles containing a mix of these. It was also found that the largest group of users were adult women, especially when looking at number of textiles discarded. If weight was applied instead, the difference between the genders evened out more. As these findings are preliminary, it is too early to provide any hard conclusions. Instead, the project note is meant to grant insights into the kind of data that will eventually be available and shared with the project group.

Click here to read the full project note.