Sinha, Pammi, Tipi, Nicoleta S., Day, Claire L., Domvolgou, D. and Beverley, Katharine J. (2014) Supply chain challenges for sustainability: the case of waste textiles as raw materials. In: LRN Annual Conference and PhD Workshop 2014, 3rd-5th September 2015, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, United Kingdom.
Abstract

Purpose: This paper addresses the growing problem of textile waste in the rapidly developing cities of subSaharan
Africa and examines, from a supply chain perspective, the potential for waste textile materials to
be transformed into the raw materials for new consumer products.
Research Approach: The paper reflects on the outcomes of a field trip to Dar es Salaam in which
stakeholders in a hypothesised textile waste supply chain were interviewed and waste textile materials
were analysed in order to determine their content and appropriateness for reuse. Findings from the field
study have been compared with current literature on logistics and market creation, waste generation,
management and recycling in sub-Saharan Africa.
Findings and Originality: The findings show that a rudimentary system has been in place for many years to
collect and recycle textiles in Dar es Salaam. However, at the same time as textile waste is projected to
increase in the city, collection rates are falling. The chief reasons for the falling rates are failures in the
‘modernised mixture’ approach to waste collection employed by Dar es Salaam City Council and market
failure for the collected materials. Alternative combinations of ‘modernised mixtures’, incorporating
community-based organisations, are likely to increase textile yields from unplanned urban areas but
previous high-profile failures in such systems within Dar es Salaam mean there is caution on both sides in
entering into such a relationship. The more pressing problem is to identify appropriate end markets for the
textile materials, since in a country where recycling is entirely market-driven, failure to do so will
undermine any attempt to improve the collection system. Whilst many studies have considered general
recycling practices in sub-Saharan Africa, there are few investigations into textile waste. Furthermore,
those existing studies do not consider the importance of understanding fibre composition of the materials
in order to determine the most appropriate end markets.
Research Impact: The research contributes to the growing body of knowledge on ‘bottom of the pyramid’
approaches to sustainable futures.
Practical Impact: The work presented considers supply chain problems and offers approaches to tackling
the increasing waste management issues of Dar es Salaam and proposes a mechanism for doing so which
has the potential to provide income for the poorest sectors of the urban society.

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