With the support of the H&M Foundation and continued collaboration with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ), GFA aims to expand the reach and impact of the Global Circular Fashion Forum (GCFF).

Launched by GFA in 2022 with the support of GIZ, the project has been instrumental in catalysing action to accelerate and scale textile waste recycling in manufacturing countries.

The GCFF and its National Circular Fashion Partnerships claim to have recycled 10,685 tonnes of textile waste, equivalent to 60 million t-shirts. The programme is currently active in Bangladesh, in development stages in Cambodia and Vietnam and is set to include Türkiye and Indonesia.

The partnership between GFA and H&M Foundation will focus on three key objectives:

  1. Mobilising the industry to commit to producing and using recycled materials with lower carbon impact.
  2. Facilitating knowledge exchange across countries and regions through the development of supportive publications and tools.
  3. Enabling the realisation of locally owned and led National Circular Fashion Partnerships in manufacturing countries, fostering multistakeholder efforts to establish and scale effective national infrastructures for post-industrial textile waste recycling.

Key partners such as Circle Economy, Closed Loop Fashion, and Reverse Resources, along with local stakeholders in targeted regions, will play key roles in driving this transformative agenda forward.

“This landmark partnership with H&M Foundation will enable Global Fashion Agenda to significantly expand its impact work, which is centred around our vision of a creating net positive fashion industry,” said Federica Marchionni, CEO of GFA. “Together we can converge, collaborate, and chart a course towards a socially just circular fashion industry that turns textile waste into value, minimises the production of virgin materials, and aligns with the 1.5-degree pathway.”

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Circular systems

According to the “Circularity Gap Reporting Initiative 2023/ The Circularity Gap Report 2023,” circular systems offer a promising avenue to decouple economic growth from the consumption of finite resources while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

However, recent data indicates a widening circularity gap, with only 7.2% of materials being recycled globally in 2023, down from 9.1% in 2018, resulting in 90% of materials either wasted, lost, or remaining untapped for reuse.

By continuing on the fashion industry’s current linear path, resources will become less reliable, leading to more value destruction.

Despite the potential benefits of circular systems, the adoption of textile-to-textile recycling technologies remains limited, with less than 1% of textile waste currently being recycled into new textiles. This represents an annual loss of over $100bn worth of materials, based on Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s 2021 report “Circular business models: redefining growth for a thriving fashion industry.”

Christiane Dolva the strategy lead at H&M Foundation, emphasised the importance of collaboration in driving systemic change within the textile industry and said: “Working towards greater circularity and impactful change in the textile industry requires bringing together diverse stakeholders across the entire value chain.

“Together we’re putting the pieces in place to create a self-sufficient infrastructure that endures far beyond the scope of this partnership.”