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February 10, 2021

H&M and M&S back project to reuse textile waste in Bangladesh

By Beth Wright

H&M Group, Marks & Spencer, and C&A are among more than 30 brands, manufacturers and recyclers that are taking part in a new initiative to capture and reuse textile waste in Bangladesh.

The Circular Fashion Partnership is a cross-sectoral project led by the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), with partners Reverse Resources, The Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA), and P4G, that aims to achieve a long-term, scalable transition to a circular fashion system.

The partnership, which launched in November, facilitates circular commercial collaborations between major fashion brands, textile and garment manufacturers, and recyclers to develop and implement new systems to capture and direct post-production fashion waste back into the production of new fashion products. In addition, it seeks to find solutions for the Covid-19 related pile-up of deadstock and to engage regulators and investors around the current barriers and economic opportunities in the country.

Today (10 February), GFA has announced the participants which include global brands Bershka, Bestseller, C&A, Gina Tricot, Grey State, H&M Group, Kmart Australia, Marks & Spencer, OVS, Pull & Bear, Peak Performance and Target Australia.

Manufacturers include Amantex, Asrotex Group, Auko-tex Group, Aurum Sweaters, Beximco, Bitopi Group (Tarasima), Composite Knitting Industry Ltd, Crystal International Group Limited, Echotex, Fakir Knitwear, GSM, JM Fabrics, Knit Asia, MAS Intimates, Ratul Group (Knitwear & Fabric), Salek Textiles, S B Knite Composite (Sankura Dyeing and Garments) and the Northern Group.

Among the recyclers, meanwhile, are Birla Cellulose, BlockTexx, Cyclo, Infinited Fiber Company, Malek Spinning Mills, Marchi & Fildi Spa, Lenzing AG, Recovertex, Renewcell, Saraz Fibre Tech, Usha Yarns Limited, and Worn Again Technologies.

GFA took to Twitter to announce the news:

Through collaboration among the participants, the partnership aims to build a successful business model for adopting more circular processes. It plans to facilitate a decrease in textile waste and increase the use of recycled fibres, distributing value throughout the fashion value cycle and generating economic benefits in Bangladesh by accelerating the fiber recycling market.     The initiative is focusing on Bangladesh as it arguably possesses the most in-demand and recyclable waste of any garment producing country, but the majority of its waste is currently being exported and/or downcycled, GFA says. Therefore, it notes there is a substantial opportunity to make it a leader in circularity by scaling the recycling capacity in the country and generating more value from these waste streams. Following the hardships in the country generated by Covid-19, this approach also aims build industry resilience for the future.   The business model and project learnings will be presented at the end of 2021 in a ‘Circularity Playbook for Bangladesh’, which will be used as a guide to replicate the partnership in other countries, such as Vietnam and Indonesia.

“To establish a circular fashion system we need to reimagine the production process so that it appreciates the value of textile waste,” Morten Lehmann, chief sustainability officer at Global Fashion Agenda, says. “It is encouraging to see so many prestigious companies sign up to the Circular Fashion Partnership and, with their help, I am confident that we can demonstrate a strong business model for circularity that can be mirrored by others in the future.”

Miran Ali, director of BGMEA, adds: “Circular economy is not merely just a concept; it is the future. Fashion industry is historically following the linear model of business ‘take-make-dispose’ but now we stand at such a critical juncture where we cannot afford to continue this linear model. Moreover, demand for circular apparel is increasing and brands are coming with pledges towards it, so as manufacturers we have to embrace it and align ourselves with the global trend. Bangladeshi factories typically produce larger volumes of the same item, meaning that waste is more standardised; therefore, Bangladesh can be a global leader in the area of circular economy. We believe Circular Fashion Partnership is a good platform to start the journey.”

Meanwhile, Reverse Resources CEO Ann Runnel says while brands are making strong commitments and targets towards circularity, there are not many scalable options for circulating and handling waste.

“In this project we turn our attention to practical solutions that many best recycling technologies face when sourcing textile waste and use traceability as a tool to help them lower costs and increase the quality of the waste they source. Post-production waste is currently the low hanging fruit for supporting this emerging recycling industry to start closing the loop at scale, whilst we prepare for the even greater challenge of circulating post-consumer waste.”

The partnership is still welcoming new applicants and interested parties can find out more here.

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