World Bank Learning Series Webinar: Circular Economy and Private Sector Development: Textiles.
Manufacturing pollution hotspots

In 2020, SEI and the University of York produced the report, Manufacturing Pollution in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia: Implications for the Environment, Health and Future Work , which was commissioned by The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO)   as part of the Sustainable Manufacturing and Environmental Pollution (SMEP) Programme .

The report, which maps manufacturing pollution hotspots in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, identified that the textiles, apparel and tanneries sectors, which rely heavily on natural resources, are among the most polluting manufacturing industries in both regions. 

Textiles are essential products, with multiple consumers, technical and industrial usages. Textiles are also global products, having supply chains sourcing from vast agriculture and petrochemical sectors, with an upstream involving various steps of ­manufacturing distributed across the world. In 2019, the global market for textiles, including apparel, approached USD 1 trillion, with production concentrated in developing countries like China, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Brazil and Turkey. Textiles are made of a variety of natural and synthetic fibers, as well as various blends, whose lifecycles bring environmental and social consequences for producing and consuming countries.  Those include CO2 emissions embedded in materials, health impacts from synthetic dyes and toxic metals used in production, as well as ocean plastics pollution (esp. linked to polyester and other plastic-based fibers). Substantial concerns have been also raised on the unregulated trade of 2nd hand clothes, which many countries – especially in East Africa – denounce as being detrimental to their national development efforts.

Textiles – including the apparel and fashion industries – are facing a transformation moment. With a general perception that linear, fast-fashion models are unsustainable, consumers, businesses, and regulators search ways to make textiles and apparel into a more efficient and less polluting sector. Circular solutions are seen as a way to transform the sector, from its material essence to its guiding business models. A variety of measures are proposed, including design-for-durability, materials innovation, mainstreaming and modernizing second-hand markets, as well as promoting different business models which rely on access-as-a-service instead of ownership for garments.



26 January 2021 | 9:00 – 11:00 am EDT  

9:00 – 9:05   

Housekeeping and Introduction to Session
Opening remarks by UNCTAD Deputy Secretary General Isabelle Durant
9:05 – 9:20  

Framing the Transition towards a Circular Economy in Textiles

Francois Souchet, Lead, Make Fashion Circular, Ellen MacArthur Foundation

9:20 – 10:00 

Re-designing the Value Chain: Production, Materials and Design 

Moderated by Lisa Emberson, SEI Affiliated Researcher and University of York

  • Khalid Mahmood, Master Textile Mills Limited
  • Jenny Fredricsdotter, Renewcell
  • Amorpol Huvanandana, MoreLoop Thailand
10:00 – 10:40  

Optimizing Value: Business Models, Brand Leadership 

Moderated by Whitney Bauck, Senior Sustainability Reporter at Fashionista

  • Jessica Long, Author & Circular Economy Expert
  • Mart Drake-Knight, Rapanui clothing &
  • Sarah Hayes, H&M
10:40 – 11:00 

Enabling the Ecosystem – Open Panel Discussion

Moderated by Henrique Pacini, Economist, UNCTAD
Closing Remarks by Etienne Kechichian, Senior Private Sector Specialist, World Bank


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About the World Bank Learning Sessions

The World Bank is hosting a series of eight livestream events to better understand how the private sector can help accelerate the world’s transition toward a regenerative and circular economy.

Each session brings together leading experts to consider and provide evidence-based responses to the complex questions inherent to systems change, including: Can circularity be competitive? How does the transition translate in emerging economy contexts? What is the role of international donors, policy makers, and regulation? How can it help spur a COVID-19 response?

Find out more .