Germany-wide consumption of textiles averages to almost 19 kilograms of textiles per person per year, which is approximately 1.56 million tons per year. Of this, about 1 million tons were collected as old textiles nationwide, corresponding to a collection rate of about 64% (Umweltbundesamt, Texte 31/2022).
Various collection systems are used for collecting used textiles. The largest share, approximately 75.6%, is collected in depot containers.
To date, there is no independent legal framework in Germany for the collection, sorting, preparation for reuse and recycling of used textiles. The general legal framework is provided by the Kreislaufwirtschaftsgesetz (Circular Economy Act). A key point aspect of this law is the product responsibility anchored in § 25 KrWG, which is also the focus of the EU textile strategy as well as in the draft amendment to the EU Waste Shipment Regulation.
In 2022, the Umweltbundesamt (German Federal Environment Agency) commissioned the study "Erarbeitung möglicher Modelle der erweiterten Herstellerverantwortung für Textilien" (Development of Possible Models for Extended Producer Responsibility for Textiles), which was published in October 2023.
Link: UBA Studie Protex Erarbeitung möglicher Modelle der erweiterten Herstellerverantwortung für Textilien
Link: Presentation Protex - cyclos und Kösegi
The Gemeinschaft für textile Zukunft has been advocating for Extended Producer Responsibility for textiles for many years and contributes suggestions and background information to the drafting process.
In a study published by the Umweltbundesamt (German Environment Agency) in March 2022 titled "Evaluation of the collection and recovery of selected waste streams for the further development of circular economy", individual legal regulatory options were evaluated in order to ensure the high-quality collection and recycling of used textiles in the future. It was found that further measures are needed to increase the recycling of textiles, and extended producer responsibility can be seen as a target-oriented measure to be pursued further at the present time.
Link: Umweltbundesamt - Evaluation ausgewählter Abfallströme
The German Environment Agency also conducted its own study on the topic of „Abfallvermeidung von Textilien - Übersicht zu gesetzlichen Regelungen, Leitfäden, Strategien, Umweltzeichen und Siegel“ (Waste prevention of textiles - overview of legal regulations, guidelines, strategies, ecolabels and marks).
Link: UBA-Texte - Abfallvermeidung von Textilien; Übersicht zu gesetzlichen Regelungen, Leitfäden, Strategien, Umweltzeichen und Siegel
In May 2023, the Federal/State Committee on Waste (LAGA) published " Mitteilung 40 - Vollzugshilfe zur Vermeidung, Erfassung, Sortierung und Verwertung von Alttextilien " (Notice 40 - Implementation Guide for the Prevention, Collection, Sorting and Recycling of Used Textiles). The GftZ welcomes the clarification provided in this notice regarding which textile waste falls under the B3030 cross-border transport category, as well as the specifications for waste hierarchy requirements and technical waste management standards.
In 2016, GftZ, in cooperation with the Deutscher Städtetag (German Association of Cities and Town) and the Deutscher Landkreistag (German Association of Counties), developed “Orientierungshilfen für die Praxis bei kommunalen Ausschreibungen zum Thema Erfassung, Sortierung und Verwertung von Alttextilien" (Guidance for practical use in municipal tenders on the topic of collection, sorting and recycling of used textiles).
The shareholders of the GftZ are pleased that many of the requirements formulated in the guidelines are also reflected in the current LAGA implementation guide and will be implemented by all parties involved. Moreover, the GftZ assumes that the federal government will advocate this position within the European debate on the new on Waste Shipment regulation.
The Blauer Engel (Blue Angel) is Germany's most well-known eco-label. The criteria of the Blauer Engel for textiles take into account the entire manufacturing process and encompass all environmentally and health-relevant processes. At its core, the Blauer Engel is an eco-label, but consumers are also increasingly questioning the working conditions during production. Therefore, social aspects are considered alongside the traditional environmental requirements for textiles.