World first: Finnish city pilots a deposit system to encourage recycling of textile waste
Through its pioneering deposit system, the City of Lahti has taken a significant step towards combating textile waste and promoting sustainable recycling practices.City of Lahti
The City of Lahti has launched a groundbreaking pilot aimed at incentivising the recycling of textile waste and addressing the environmental impact of discarded textiles.
Textile waste has become a pressing global issue, with millions of tonnes ending up in landfills each year. Recognising the need for effective solutions, the City of Lahti has taken the lead by introducing a deposit system for textile recycling.
Under the pilot programme, local residents can bring their textile waste to a pop-up collection point at the Trio shopping centre. In return, they receivea voucherwhich can be used at a local café or outdoor pool.
The textiles collected will be processed into recycled fibre at Finland’s largest textile processing facility in Paimio. These fibres can in turn be utilised in the production of various new products, such as threads, insulation materials and acoustic panels.
“As a pioneer in urban environmentalism, we have set a goal of being a waste-free city by 2050,” said communications director Veera Hämäläinen. “The textile deposit is a great example of an everyday innovation that directly aims to minimise the amount of waste and showcases the potential of discarded textiles as a raw material for industries and design.”
Lahti's pilot programme has the potential to inspire other cities worldwide to adopt similar initiatives.
“Our future depends on a circular economy, but it can’t just be the consumers’ responsibility to take care of recycling,” said Kimmo Rinne, development manager at Salpakierto, a municipal company that handles waste management in the Lahti region.“With this pilot we want to ask what countries, cities and companies can do to help make recycling easier and more attractive to people. Deposits have worked well before, maybe there could be one for textiles in the future.”
The City of Lahti has also launched a national design competitionthat is aimed at discovering creative ways to repurpose discarded textiles, further showcasing its dedication to sustainable practices.
The initiativeadds to the growing repertoire of green solutions offered by Finland's fashion and textile industry. Companies like Infinited Fiber and Spinnova have garnered international attention for their sustainable textile fibres, highlighting the country's commitment to eco-friendly innovation.