Open and transparent value chain for secondhand clothing
The Norwegian Red Cross has called on DNV to create a framework that ensures transparency in the textile collection service.
As longstanding partners, DNV and the Norwegian Red Cross work towards the United Nations Sustainable Goals by sharing skills and expertise with each other. Collaborative projects have been focused on sustainability and on reducing the humanitarian consequences of environmental issues. Previous joint efforts and shared values made DNV a natural choice as a collaborator for the Red Cross textile collection service when developing a framework for tracking collected garments through the value chain.
The textile industry requires massive amounts of water and raw materials and is a significant source of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions (European Environment Agency 2023). Additionally, mass consumption leads to extensive waste – in Norway alone we throw away an average of nine kilos of clothing a year (Norsus 2023). By reusing and recycling we can contribute to reducing both textile waste and the environmental impact of textile production.
For businesses and organisations working with textile collection and resale it is crucial to maintain the trust of the public. Recently, concerns have been raised that textiles might end up in landfills rather than being recycled as promised, leading to NGOs and authorities asking whether there is sufficient control of what happens to second hand textiles exported from Norway. To meet these concerns, transparency in the entire value chain is considered key, from the collection point, via the sorting facilities all the way to the end users.
Motivated by this, DNV has examined the Red Cross textile collection service’s value chain and developed a framework for a tracking system for the collected textiles, a Traceability Protocol. Throughout the process, DNV has pointed out both risks and key success factors for ensuring transparency in the value chain. One of the main objectives of the new framework is to be able to identify the end destination of the collected items of clothing and textiles, both in terms of geographical location and whether the textiles are recycled, resold, sent to landfills or incinerated.
«We are happy to be able to facilitate more transparency in the Norwegian Red Cross textile collection program by enabling the set-up of a traceability system,» says Christopher Lilholm from DNV about the project.
To successfully implement such a framework, it is imperative to involve stakeholders such as customers and partners in the value chain. Partners must be encouraged to strive for continuous improvement in bringing transparency in the supply chain. This can in turn result in added value, for example by gaining more international clients and improving efficiency, thus lowering costs and increasing revenue.
«DNV’s contribution, and the framework they have provided us with, will enable us to offer our services in a way that reduces the risk of harm towards people and the environment,» says Kristin Voll from the Red Cross textile collection service. By ensuring transparency in the entire supply chain, the Red Cross can secure its position as a trusted actor within the textile collection industry.
2023 Kunnskapsstatus for tekstiler og tekstilavfall i Norge – Norsus: https://norsus.no/publikasjon/2023-kunnskapsstatus-fortekstiler-og-tekstilavfall-i-norge/
2023 What are the environmental impacts of the textile industry? - European Environment Agency: https://www.eea.europa.eu/en/about/contact-us/faqs/what-are-the-environmental-impacts-of-textiles