This past week saw even yet still more circular economic initiatives sprouting up in the apparel industry.
First, the C&A Foundation granted €250,000 ($276,000) to the social enterprise Circle Economy, which is dedicated to accelerating the practical and scalable implementation of the circular economy. Circle Economy will use the funding to advance its Circle Textiles Program with a mission to close the loop for textiles and create a zero-waste industry.
“Thanks to C&A Foundation’s generous grant, we can push this ambitious program to the next level and take the bold steps necessary to scale our zero waste mission,” said Gwen Cunningham, Lead Circle Textiles at Circle Economy. “We plan to build on the success and expertise of the Circle Textiles Program to date, but also develop new tools for the industry that are critical in engaging companies in closed-loop strategies.”
With a focus on end-of-life and systems redesign, the program aims to achieve a zero-waste industry by developing and establishing a commercial and scalable model for closing the loop on post-industrial, pre-consumer and post-consumer textiles.
The continued evolution of circularity
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Circle Economy approaches these issues facing the world's second most polluting industry through practical, on-the-ground tools and services. To date, the Circle Textiles Program core projects include:
- Fibersort - An automated technology that sorts large volumes of mixed post-consumer textiles based on material composition.
- Circle Market - A pioneering online marketplace for the recovery, reuse and resale of textile materials
- High Value-recycling Pilots - Circle Economy joined forced with C&A Foundation members Recover, Reblend, G-Star and Reshare to test and prove the true potential of high-value recycling in order to leverage untapped 'waste' streams to create new textiles on a large scale.
- Circular Business Model Analysis - Inspiring textile companies to identify opportunities and develop business models based on circular principles.
Meanwhile, more and more brands are adopting their own closed-loop strategies for textiles. Last week, Volcom joined the likes of Outerknown, Speedo USA and Levi Strauss when it announced the release of its first collection of women’s swimwear featuring recycled materials, for spring ’17. The “Simply Solid Swim Collection” is composed of 78 percent ECONYL® - the regenerated yarn from Italian sustainable textile developer Aquafil that is upcycled from recycling fishing nets and other discarded nylons. The process ensures no loss of material quality and the end product is also 100 percent recyclable.
And sustainable active wear brand Yoga Democracy is close behind after announcing its “Eco-tech Fabric,” also made from ECONYL yarn. The company’s sublimation process, hand dying the polyester using zero-water and a low-energy process, additionally contributes to closing the loop with its yoga apparel.
Closed-loop materials initiatives are quickly gaining ground throughout the fashion and textile industries: adidas just unveiled its latest collection of apparel and shoes made from upcycled ocean plastic, while H&M recently debuted its first, student-designed womenswear collection made from recycled fabrics gathered from its in-store garment-collection program.