Saint Vincent de Paul

The Challenge

Circular economy process to deal with end-of-life textiles on the Island.

Technology Readiness Level 4 -8.

In detail

Seeking an ethical solution to deal with end-of-life textiles to overcome the sectors over reliance on exporting. Current practice in the charity retail industry is to rely heavily on exporting discarded textiles to the Global South.

From January 2025, the Waste Framework Directive requires all EU member states to introduce separate textiles collections, generating up to 64,000 tonnes of textiles, currently household waste, that could be reprocessed on the island, creating value add opportunities.

We are looking to understand the digital technologies, equipment, and processes and the associated partnership opportunities to help with this end-of-life textile challenge.

Innovating using a circular economy approach can help SVP reduce waste and transport emissions, and potentially reintroduce a material that is otherwise discarded.

In 2023 SVP re-distributed approximately 60% of donated textiles through its retail network of shops and Order Fulfilment Centres. Approximately 40% of donated textiles were not resold in Ireland but are instead sold to clothing graders who currently export 80% for resale, 15% goes for Fibre-to-Fibre extraction and less than 5% is converted to Refuge Derived Fuel. The Clothing Export market has contracted, with the price for exported textiles dropping significantly in 2024. SVP wants to further increase its reuse of donated textiles and would welcome the introduction of Circular economy process to deal with end-of-life textiles on the Island.

What does implementation look like?

Implementation of a solution to this challenge will have industry wide implications.
  • Educating the public on the solution and influencing consumer behavior.
  • Ideally the solution will result in further reuse of textile material creating value for industries.
  • It will greatly reduce transport emissions due to less exporting to the Global South.
This can be an all-island solution, for example;
  • Digital solution such as a secondary marketplace
  • A supply chain concept industries who wish to use the textile waste for value add
  • Equipment for reprocessing of textile waste

Explain your approach to sustainability

SVP operates 230 charity shops across the island of Ireland acting in solidarity with the communities we serve. In addition to being a convenient source of affordable clothing and household items, and an ethical alternative to “Fast Fashion”, Vincent’s also serves as a community hub and gateway to the world of SVP and works towards the “Triple Bottom Line” generating enormous social and environmental value in addition to raising much needed funds for SVP.

With shops in every county in Ireland, a network of 8 Order Fulfilment Centres collects, grade and redistribute unsold donations from our shops. SVP is committed to circular economy and works to keep donated textiles in circulation for as long as possible.

The SSVP is an associate member of UNESCO and a special adviser to the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is also part of the Global Catholic Climate Movement and is aligned with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) proposed by the United Nations in its Agenda 2030.