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The Governance of European Textile Waste Export

Flaws in the flow: Investigating gaps in the governance of European textile waste export

A large amount of the EU's used or wasted textile is exported towards lower-income countries (Brink et al., 2021; EEA, 2023). Much of this exported textile is either burned or dumped (Afvalcirculair, 2017) and the amount that is truly reused or recycled is uncertain. What happens with second-hand garments and textile waste has not been researched systematically and not yet from an interdisciplinary perspective. Material flow research already flagged the waste impact of the EU textile sector. However, there is a lack of data and knowledge about how this cross-country waste chain can be governed. While not at the top of the European textile waste exporters, the Netherlands constitutes a main hub for the collection and shipment of these (by)products.

This project aims at investigating the systemic flaws within the textile waste which flows from European countries towards lower-income ones, with a focus on the Netherlands. The project will pursue a threefold goal:

  1. Collecting evidence about the existing national/international policy frameworks on textile waste exports; 
  2. Mapping the actors and networks involved in the textile waste chains;
  3. Identifying institutional and data gaps to inform evidence-based policies. From a methodological standpoint, the project approaches the multi-stakeholder character of the EU textile waste outflow through a critical and transdisciplinary perspective. relying on the criticism of multi-stakeholderism (Canfield, 2022; Canfield et al., 2021), and striving to advance a stakeholder encounter strategy (Klenk and Meehan, 2017). 

To do that a three-step method will be implemented:

  1. Desk research;
  2. Stakeholder mapping;
  3. Workshop. The workshop will be developed over 2 working days and will cover two main aspects: knowledge sharing (expert presentations) and knowledge creation (interactive sections).
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