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Five leading apparel organizations have partnered to establish circular fashion system

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 Leading apparel organizations to aim to collaborate to establish a common framework and clear standards to resolve the most significant circularity issues for the fashion and textile industries.

Mosharaf Group cutting waste recycled towel

Figure 1: Some leading Bangladeshi apparel manufacturers are making products from cutting waste’ recycled yarn and exporting globally.

 

EURATEX (European Apparel and Textile Confederation), Federation of the European Sporting Goods Industry (FESI), Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), International Apparel Federation (IAF) and Sustainable Apparel Coalition (SAC) have come together to work with policymakers on a unified approach to circularity.



Currently, 73% of the world’s clothing eventually ends up in landfills, less than 1% of the material used to produce clothing as recycled into new clothing and also less than 15% of clothes are collected for recycling from the users as per Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017.



In a recent forecast, the world population will exceed 8.5 billion people by 2030 and global garment production will increase by 63%. If the fashion industry does not start acting now on fashion circularity, the linear model will soon reach its physical limits and the strain on our planet will get much worse.



To drive change and save the world, the five organizations have released a new policy manifesto to deliver a circular economy in textiles. Because circularity is a necessary solution to minimize the use of finite resources, but it demands a unified approach.

World’s apparel waste

Figure 2: World’s apparel waste is the most polluting and concerning issue for the environment.

 

The manifesto stresses the need for the industry to rethink its business model and for policymakers to think beyond existing policy tools that are rooted in a linear economy to resolve the most significant circularity issues for the fashion and textile industries.



To establish a circular economy, a joint global approach to circular fashion is needed. So, the organizations behind the manifesto have committed to developing a European vision for textiles in a circular economy.



 

This is the beginning of a new approach. Central EU institutions will have new leadership this autumn, making now the time to act to fully realize the opportunities of a circular fashion system. Ultimately, the loop is global, not just regional.



The manifesto aims to tackles circularity in three ways-



First, it frames the issue by contending that closing the loop requires unprecedented collaboration to combat fashion waste and to guarantee that business models are fully circular, with no broken links.



Second, it declares that a new approach must be adopted across the industry by utilizing technological innovations in solutions such as separating fibers for reuse and upcycling.



Third, the manifesto demands more groundbreaking policy measures tailored to the needs of a diverse range of businesses –from SMEs to multinationals –and smart regulations to nudge consumers to rethink the way they use and dispose of their garments.



Eva Kruse, CEO, and President, Global Fashion Agenda, said, “This manifesto is extremely significant as it is the first time so many influential organizations in the fashion industry have come together to work with policymakers on a unified approach to circularity.”



“Consumption is only going to grow, and if we do not act now to find a solution to the take-make-dispose model, the strain on our planet will get much worse. We urgently need widespread collaboration between industry and regulators to enact impactful circular solutions, and I hope this manifesto will help to drive change at scale,” Eva Kruse continued.



At present 94 signatories, 12.5% of the global fashion market have committed to circularity


For the fashion circularity brands and retailers can play an important role, but to establish a systematic shift need wider engagement including governments, value chain partners and investors to play their part.



Ahead of Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2019 from 24-25 October 2019, the above five leading apparel organizations have called on existing and forthcoming EU policymakers to rethink tools to establish a circular fashion system.


The manifesto framing the below issues and new approach –   

  • Circularity should be considered as a means to achieve climate and resource protection and not an end in itself.

  • If any part of the loop is broken, a circular economy cannot function. A holistic approach to a circular economy in textiles must, therefore, go beyond waste and recycling and include measures to incorporate better design and materials.

  • Identifying and addressing the weakest links in the existing chain and supporting infrastructure is vital, as well as pinpointing the hotspots wher investment and support will be needed.

  • The loop is global, not regional, which is why discussions about how to achieve a circular economy need to include all levels of the European Union (EU Member States and EU Institutions) and other regions. Any incoming EU action will have wider ramifications outside of Europe (e.g. due to the impact on imports and exports and compliance with EU law).

  • Closing the loop requires the whole industry to play its part, and will not be achieved unless SME-based manufacturing is also brought on board, alongside fashion brands and retailers.

  • The fashion industry has a huge opportunity and responsibility to engage and empower consumers on the journey towards a more circular industry, by providing and encouraging sustainable consumption behaviors.

  • Transitioning to a circular economy requires a new toolbox that brings together public and private initiatives to remove barriers, increase awareness, invest in technological innovation, stimulate demand and develop new business models.

  • A coordinated approach across all institutions at EU-level is essential to cover the full complexity of circular fashion and textiles.

  • Smart regulation will identify and alleviate areas that industry cannot address alone, while also allowing for and encouraging future innovation.

  • Clearly defined roles and responsibilities for each actor in the value chain will be key, such as public-private partnership to address existing gaps.

Earlier at Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2017, Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) one of the influential and most active partner from the above five, called on the fashion industry to take action on circularity by signing a commitment as a concrete way to turn words into action.



The aim was to increase the number of fashion brands and retailers taking action on circularity in order to accelerate the industry’s transition to a circular fashion system.



To set a direction for this transition, Global Fashion Agenda outlined four immediate action points for achieving fashion circularity-


1) Implementing design strategies for cyclability


2) Increasing the volume of used garments and footwear collected


3) Increasing the volume of used garments and footwear resold


4) Increasing the share of garments and footwear made from recycled post-consumer textile fibers

circular fashion system by 2020

Figure 3: The signatories have set their individual targets for 2020 with the minimum requirement of setting a target within one or more of the four action points. Global Fashion Agenda and BSR have provided guidance to signatories on setting targets.

 

In this regard, the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) is using its platform to drive action among fashion brands and retailers. They are trying to build awareness among the brands and retailers that they can play an important role in circularity which should be top on their corporate agenda. To establish a systematic shift also need the wider ecosystem, including governments, value chain partners and investors to play their part.



The 2020 Commitment by the brands and retailers covers four key issues-


1) Taking action: Getting fashion brands and retailers to take action on circularity to increase the industry’s overall performance at the end-of-use phase of the value chain


2) Knowledge sharing: Sharing advice, best practices, lessons learned and solutions to support brands in the transition


3) Policy engagement: Engaging with policymakers to co-develop the wider framework necessary for a circular fashion system


4) Industry alignment: Providing the platform, network, and advocacy to ensure that circularity gets lifted, communicated and implemented in the broader fashion industry.


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