Tajikistan's Garment and Footwear Industry is Going Circular
Over 300 million people are employed globally in the textile industry, particularly in emerging economies like Bangladesh, Brazil, China, India, Pakistan, and Turkey. The global textile business is estimated to be worth around $1.4 trillion. Despite having a significant social impact, the textile sector produces a lot of waste and pollution. It is distinguished by excessive manufacturing and consumption of inexpensive clothing that is frequently created in subpar working conditions and that often ends up in landfills.
Consumers, businesses, and regulators are now aware of this sector’s inefficient business practices. This issue affects not only the environment but also lost business prospects. A solution to improving the textile industry's efficiency and reducing its environmental impact may be found in circular economy strategies that link downstream and upstream components of this global sector.
By linking the production and disposal ends of the value chain, the expansion of textile production associated with reverse logistics capabilities may increase the robustness of supply chains. Through reuse, repurposing, or recycling, the resulting increase in circularity could cut 33% of the carbon dioxide emissions contained in textile products. According to recent UNCTAD research, it might also aid in reducing air, land, and soil pollution connected to textile production. More circularity might reintroduce recovery and upcycling activities from the margins of the apparel industry into the mainstream, enhancing governance in areas where informality has so far predominated.
The industry of clothing and footwear is essential to Tajikistan's economic growth. 50% (or 9,000 workers) of all light industry workers in Tajikistan were engaged in the textile sector in 2021, along with 28.9% (or 5,200 workers) in the apparel sector and 4.4% (or 4,400 workers) in the leather and footwear sector. Cotton production in Tajikistan may represent a significant competitive advantage for the development of the country's apparel and footwear industries. Cotton exports from the nation totalled 202.6 million USD in 2021 (9.4% of all exports), while garment exports came in at 18.3 million USD.
According to Tajikistan's 2030 National Development Strategy, the industry will be further strengthened by establishing agro-industrial clusters and businesses for the full processing of cocoons, raw materials for leather, and cotton fibre. There is an urgent need to restrict the current linear business models and instead create a regulatory framework that facilitates a circular transition in light of the anticipated development and environmental issues of Tajikistan's garment and footwear production. The concept of a circular economy has previously been investigated by Tajikistan in some of its national strategies that are now being developed. For instance, two important plans are the National Strategy on Waste Management, which the Committee for Environmental Protection oversees, and the National Strategy on Green Economy, which the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade oversees.
The UN Resident Coordinator in Tajikistan, Ms Sezin Sinanoglu, spoke about the change required for the circular economy. She stated that "we need to shift from a take, use, and discard manner of thinking to a reduce, reuse, and recycle mode of thinking.” A circular economy should be adopted by the entire government in collaboration with the corporate sector and local communities. The results of this conversation will be included in a national gap analysis and assist in creating a national action plan for the transition to a circular economy. A circular value-chain traceability system for clothing and footwear will also be part of this action plan. A range of initiatives, including the development of traceability standards, an efficient incentive structure, and engagement strategies with business and civil society will be implemented.