The new system for textiles will be based on the principles of a circular economy

The new system for textiles will be based on the principles of a circular economy

A new initiative has launched that brings together key stakeholders such as C&A Foundation, Hennes & Mauritz (H&M) and Nike to build a circular economy for textiles – starting with fashion.

Participants in the Circular Fibres Initiative, which launched at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit this week, will work together to address the drawbacks of the 'take-make-dispose' model currently dominating the industry. Launched by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, other stakeholders include Fashion for Good, the Danish Fashion Institute, Cradle to Cradle, and Mistra Future Fashion.

The new system for textiles will be based on the principles of a circular economy, generating growth that benefits consumers and businesses, while phasing out negative impacts such as waste and pollution.

"The way we produce, use and reprocess clothing today is inherently wasteful, and current rising demand increases the negative impacts," says Dame Ellen MacArthur. "The Ellen MacArthur Foundation's new initiative aims to catalyse change across the industry by creating an ambitious, fact-based vision for a new global textiles system, underpinned by circular economy principles , that has economic, environmental, and social benefits, and can operate successfully in the long term." 

As a first step, the initiative will produce an analysis of the textile industry, mapping how textiles flow around the global economy, and the externalities that arise from the current system. It will explore what a new, circular economy for textiles – one that is restorative and regenerative – could look like, and lay out the steps needed to build it.

The initiative's first report is due for publication in the autumn, and together with the accompanying stakeholder consultation will inform the initiative's further activities. 

The Circular Fibres Initiative builds on the success of the New Plastics Economy initiative, launched by the Foundation last year, which brings together leading businesses, city authorities, intergovernmental organisations, scientists, designers and innovators to build a plastics system that works.

It also follows a call to action last week from the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA) for fashion brands and retailers to join the likes of H&M, Target Corp and Kering in taking action on circularity and to pledge a commitment to the circular economy. Signatories commit to define a strategy, set targets for 2020 and report on the progress of implementing the commitment.

Call for brands to adopt circularity pledge

Following the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, the initiative has received more pledges, including from Inditex, Adidas, Marks & Spencer and Bestseller.

"I'm very pleased that some of the world's leading and biggest companies signed our Call to Action for a Circular Fashion System," said Eva Kruse, CEO of Global Fashion Agenda. "I take this as a clear sign that the industry is not only aware of the need to change and the need to strive towards a closed loop system, but also ready to act."

Last week, C&A debuted the first ever Cradle to Cradle Certified Gold T-shirts, marking an industry-first achievement for a fashion garment.

C&A starts circular journey with C2C Gold T-shirt