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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

UNIDO Celebrates Success of SwitchMed Textile Initiative


Fri 17 May 2024 | 12:50 PM
Ahmed Emam

In collaboration with the European Union (EU), and with the support of Egypt's Ministry of Trade and Industry and Ministry of Environment, the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) successfully concluded the SwitchMed MED TEST III project with a closing ceremony. 

The event, held on May 14, 2024, at the Sofitel Cairo El Gezirah Hotel, featured the presentation of a comprehensive Roadmap for a Sustainable and Circular Textile Value Chain in Egypt.

Over the past five years, the SwitchMed MED TEST III project, funded by the EU and implemented by UNIDO, has been instrumental in fostering circular economy practices within Egypt's textile and garment industries. 

Pilot demonstrations aimed at redirecting pre-consumer textile waste back into the industry and reducing the use of harmful chemicals in dyeing and finishing processes have made significant strides toward sustainability.

Marco Migliorelli, Head of the Green and Sustainable Transition Section from the European Union delegation to Egypt, thanked the cooperation with UNIDO and the national partners for “one of the most relevant and successful projects of the EU in Egypt” and underscored the importance of cooperating with the industry to further trade exchanges.

Since 2019, UNIDO's SwitchMed MED TEST III project in Egypt has fostered circular value chains in the textile sector. Through waste mapping analysis and industry consultations, opportunities to valorize waste were identified, addressing key industry challenges.

“It is important for each industrial sector to have a plan for reducing raw material consumption and resource efficiency is one of the pillars we support in making the textile sector more sustainable and competitive,” said Dr. Ali Abo Sena, Chief Executive Officer, Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency.

Innovative pilot demonstrations focused on waste management have revealed how to improve waste collection, sorting, and segregation practices within 11 textile companies and streamline pre-consumer textile waste handling in the recycling value chain. Between June 2023 and April 2024, these initiatives resulted in the valorization of over 2,400 tons of waste. This figure represents approximately 1% of the total 212,000 tons of pre-consumer textile waste generated annually by the sector in Egypt.

Moreover, assessments of mechanical and chemical recycling technologies have provided insights into the investment potential and environmental impact of textile recycling in Egypt. With proper waste segregation practices in place, the operation of new mechanical recycling lines could produce 30,000 tons of recycled fiber annually, signaling substantial economic and sustainability benefits for Egypt’s textile sector.

In parallel, UNIDO has collaborated with Egyptian textile producers and finishing companies to adopt safer chemical practices, replacing harmful chemicals with sustainable alternatives. In partnership with the Zero Discharge of Hazardous Chemicals (ZDHC) foundation, the project promoted safer chemical management systems and a 400% increase in companies registered at the ZDHC Gateway was achieved in Egypt.

The SwitchMed MED TEST III Closing Ceremony serves as a testament to the collective efforts of UNIDO, the EU, and the Egyptian government in advancing sustainable and circular practices within the textile industry. Together with the project partners, such as the Industrial Modernization Center, the Industrial Development Authority, the Egypt Textiles and Home Textiles Export Council, and the Apparel Export Council in Egypt, the journey towards a greener economy will continue in Egypt.