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For the past few decades, the fashion industry has followed a linear way of production and consumption, with little regard for the environmental consequences it imposes through using and discarding resources without focusing on quality preserving solutions for discarded materials. This is a tremendous loss of value, both ecologically and economically, estimated to more than 500 billion USD every year due to underutilisation of clothing and lack of recycling .
Of over 100 billion worldwide yearly produced pieces less than 1 % are recycled into new and of origin quality materials
However, the game is changing and circularity is quickly growing momentum in all industries - not least in the fashion industry. Circular fashion, based on the main principles of sustainability and circular economy, is a term for fashion that occurs in cycles, aiming to keep materials at their highest value at all times, letting nothing go to waste. Such closed loop systems have the potential to drive sustainability while creating environmental, financial and creative value through improved business models that will also thrive in the long term.
Three steps towards circularity
A transition towards circular practices requires us to rethink and redesign every part of a garment’s life: from increasing the use of less impactful fibres and materials, exploring innovative design and business strategies, building infrastructure for closed loop recycling to creating platforms for collaboration, innovation and knowledge exchange. To work towards a circular future of fashion, we must solve three core challenges:
Our circular.fashion system
Recycling innovation is happening, and with state-of-the art technologies it is possible to produce recycled fibres with the same quality as virgin fibres. However, it is essential to design garments for circularity from the very beginning and to ensure a transparent flow of information between the actors of the supply chain.
At circular.fashion we created a digital platform for material suppliers, fashion brands and recyclers where tools and resources can be accessed to ensure circularity in every step. The circular design software, consisting of a material library, design guidelines and a product development tool supports fashion brands to design circular and sustainable products. By providing a digital tag, a circularity.ID, to be integrated into a garment we aim to collectively set a standard for transparency and traceability enabling reverse supply chain intelligence for customers, sorters and recyclers to ensure that each piece is recycled into new fibre again.
Moving towards a circular economy is not an option - it is essential to survive as a business in the future. Be part of the change and join the circular.fashion system:
: Ellen MacArthur Foundation, A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future, (2017, http://www.ellenmacarthurfoundation.org/publications).