Circularity is slowing making its way into the fashion industry, aiming to transform one of the most polluting sectors into a shining example of sustainability, but it still has a long way to go before it can truly shed its bad reputation. Technology has been an important driver of change, allowing brands to improve efficiencies and reduce impacts, but the sharing of resources and best practices is proving to be just as critical in nudging the industry forward towards a circular future.
With this in mind, the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute’s Fashion Positive initiative has launched an Innovators Hub, where brands and innovators can access critical resources to drive circular materials development in accordance with the principles of the Cradle to Cradle Certified product standard.
“At a time when resource scarcity and growing global population make positive change ever more urgent, the rapid innovation of safer, healthier materials offers one of the fastest routes to achieving a circular economy. The Fashion Positive Innovators Hub aims to accelerate this process for the fashion industry,” said Lewis Perkins, President of the C2C Products Innovation Institute.
Created with funding from the H&M Foundation, the Innovators Hub features a library of videos and interactive tools demonstrating the principles of the Cradle to Cradle Certified product standard, such as MaterialWise, which allows users to screen for known hazards with free access to the Cradle to Cradle Certified v3 banned list and v4 restricted substances list.
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Going one step further, the Hub also provides users with access to investors, accelerators, brands and manufacturers via the Fashion Positive network to foster connections that will help bring high-potential material innovation projects to scale.
“Until now, creating safe, healthy circular materials that also meet designers’ requirements for performance, quality and aesthetics has been a notoriously challenging process,” said Annie Gullingsrud, Director of Textiles and Apparel Sector for the C2C Products Innovation Institute. “The Fashion Positive Innovators Hub has been designed to simplify the material innovation process by addressing the three biggest challenges currently faced by material innovators in fashion: education and know-how, technical assistance and funding opportunities.”
“The momentum for a better future for fashion is growing quickly. Finding ways to improve the health, safety and recyclability of materials already in production, as well as innovate new materials made for the circular economy, will transform the fashion industry from the designer’s drawing board to the supply chain and consumer. This ultimately benefits the global environment, people and communities,” said Erik Bang, Innovation Lead at H&M Foundation.
Meanwhile, the ZDHC Foundation has launched its own resource hub to drive continuous improvements and progress around sustainable chemistry and related environmental performance.
The organization's new Implementation HUB offers brands, retailers and manufacturers a holistic portfolio of services in the areas of baselining, strategy setting and implementation, and helps match them with industry experts accredited by ZDHC to implement their chemical and environmental management projects.
Another function of the Implementation HUB is to provide a piloting environment for scalable innovation scenarios and to enable tangible improvements on the ground in producing countries by large-scale implementation projects.
“The Implementation HUB is a natural progression as we enter the next phase of the ZDHC journey towards large-scale implementation driving global impact. It is an essential element to help implement and drive continuous improvements. This setup will allow us to translate our program excellence into global value chain impact, to further strengthen industry expertise and to deepen alliances at country level,” said Frank Michel, Executive Director at ZDHC.
The ZDHC Implementation HUB is incorporated in the Netherlands with worldwide activities. It will see the building of regional and local capabilities and an international ecosystem of accredited experts. The implementation specific services will be deeply anchored in the respective country context to assure the strongest impact in supply chains. The first projects under the Implementation HUB will begin in January 2018 with individual ZDHC signatory brands and at country level with an initial focus on Italy, India and China.