The report sets out three pillars for a positive transition of the labour market: inclusion, quality of work and skills. It formulates key recommendations for each pillar:
The three pillars identified in the report form the basis of the impact strategy of the Circular Jobs Initiative, launched in March 2020.
The report is one of a handful of references that currently exist on the topic of jobs and skills in the circular economy, and it is increasingly referenced as a cornerstone publication in public discussions about the subject.
In the follow-up of the publication of this report, we have gathered over 450 stakeholders in workshops and presentations around the circular economy and jobs. The focus on skills, inclusion and quality of work has helped stakeholders dissect various issues related to the subject. This has resulted in topic-specific requests, indicating how the topic was elevated in the public debate.
We also believe this report has contributed to the evidence base for Green Recovery plans. While this is difficult to assess, the report was published during a pandemic that has highlighted the importance of an inclusive transition to circularity, and has contributed a piece to the puzzle for policymakers who are challenged to build back better.
The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is now aware of the need to revise the enforcement of the European Textile Regulation, which dictates the use of labels to inform consumers on textiles' composition.
After assessing 10,901 Fibersorted garments, Circle Economy concluded that 41% of labels on the Dutch market are inaccurate. Potential causes were assessed based on numerous interviews. These showed that enforcing organisations do not perceive labels accuracy as a key priority.
Recyclers were provided with the opportunity to speak up about the barriers created by the presence of sewn-in polyester labels.
Interviews revealed that the inaccuracy of composition claims on labels are not a recycler’s main concern, but their mere presence in a garment is. Labels are considered a pollutant of recyclers’ feedstock, limiting their ability to use post-consumer textiles as their process' feedstock, and presenting one of the main challenges to textile-to-textile mechanical recycling.
These findings provided the Ministry the evidence they needed to address the challenges that sewn-in polyester labels present in recycling processes with the European Commission, and to ensure the European Textile Regulation is revised to reflect circularity ambitions.
Recyclers were pleasantly surprised by the interest the government is taking in the implications of labels for their operations!
During interviews with brands and retailers, we introduced them to the poor accuracy of labels, and together investigated the potential causes for inaccurate labels throughout their supply chains.
As such, brands and retailers were once again shown the importance of quality procedures. This is the main instrument through which they can ensure that the products they receive from their suppliers meet the agreed composition requirements.
The study enabled textile-to-textile recyclers to prove to their clients—spinners or manufacturers—that the composition of their products cannot be known exactly, as labels are inaccurate. One of the frontrunning recyclers, Wolkat, published a statement based on the research findings indicating that their claims were finally validated by external research.
The manual labels check took place at Wieland's sorting facility. AMFI students were invited to join for a full day at the facility as part of their curriculum. During the day, students were guided through the sorting facility and introduced to the challenges of post-consumer textiles.
For many, this was their first introduction to the growing mountain of used textiles that current consumption patterns are creating, and was described by some as a ‘life changing event’.
Armed with a better understanding of the challenges that inaccurate composition claims on labels and label pollution present, the Dutch Ministry will reassess the effectiveness of its current enforcement measures for the European Textile Regulation. In addition, the limiting effect of the European Textile Regulation on the recyclability of used textiles will be put on the agenda of the European Commission.
To dive into the research, download the full report on the Circle Economy website, or watch the webinar we hosted with TextileExchange, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Waterways, and GS1Nederlands on our Youtube channel.