“World first” deposit scheme for textiles trialled in Finnish city


Lahti, Finland

The Finnish city of Lahti is piloting an incentive-based system for recycling textiles with the hope of inspiring change in consumer behaviour.

The trial comes ahead of EU countries being required to introduce a separate collection of textile waste by 2025. Earlier this year, Finland introduced a new law requiring cities and municipalities to make separate collection bins for textile waste available to all Finnish citizens.

The pilot, which is running during the first weeks of June, on a textile deposit aims to investigate if a citywide reward system can incentivise locals to recycle their textiles. Lahti residents can exchange a bagful of textiles for vouchers for local services, such as cafes or swimming pools.

The City of Lahti says the textiles collected as part of the pilot will be processed into recycled fibre at Finland’s “largest” textile processing facility in Paimio and the recovered fibre can be used in the production of new products, such as thread, insulation materials and acoustic panels.

Commenting on the pilot, Communications Director Veera Hämäläinen from the City of Lahti, said: “As a pioneer in urban environmentalism, Lahti has set a goal of being a waste-free city by 2050. 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.”

As a pioneer in urban environmentalism, Lahti has set a goal of being a waste-free city by 2050.

Lahti is also launching a national design competition that aims to find “new and creative” uses for discarded textiles, which is running from 30 May to 13 August 2023. The competition is organised in collaboration with the Sustainable Lahti Foundation, LAB University of Applied Sciences and Salpakierto.

Kimmo Rinne, Development Manager at Salpakierto, a municipal company that handles waste management in the Lahti Region, commented: “Our future depends on a circular economy, but it can’t just be the consumers’ responsibility to take care of recycling.

“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.”

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