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Fashion Can Go 80% Circular With Precompetitive Collaboration To Expand Textile Recycling




The report, written with GFA’s strategic knowledge partner McKinsey & Company, concludes that the fashion industry could become 80% circular by 2030 if more investment is made in existing recycling technologies and infrastructure. It demonstrates that pre-competitive collaborations can play a critical role in accelerating the industry’s transition to sustainable and inclusive growth, focusing on the textile recycling case study.

The conclusions are based on independent analysis and lessons learned from the Circular fashion partnership in Bangladesh a cross-sectoral project to scale up post-industrial recycling and capture textile value at the national level in Bangladesh, one of the world’s largest garment producing countries.

The research focuses on textile recycling and explains that the main recycling technologies offer better environmental results in terms of GHG emissions, water depletion and land use. Additionally, all technologies have the potential to be more cost effective than using corresponding virgin materials if scaled up.

Current technologies have the potential to provide 75% textile-to-textile recycling in the fashion system, and an additional 5% recycled raw materials from other industries. To achieve this scenario, the sector needs at least 5-7 billion capital investments in recycling technologies by 2026, as well as additional mobilization of capital towards collection and sorting infrastructure.

Research indicates that the business case for investing in recycling infrastructure is attractive if there is greater transparency in demand for recycled materials and a constant supply of high-quality, traceable raw materials. By bringing together influential players throughout the fashion value cycle, developing traceability of waste streams and aligning with mutual incentives, pre-competitive collaborations play a unique role in securing supply, demand and attract business investments where they are needed at the pace. The Circular Fashion Partnership demonstrates this.

Federica Marchionni, CEO of Global Fashion Agenda, said:“This research proves that the necessary recycling technologies exist, dramatically improve the environmental impact and that the economy operates at scale. The challenge is to create the conditions for scaling up. With sufficient investments, supportive policies and by enabling pre-competitive collaborations, I am optimistic that we can create a profitable circular system and accelerate the fashion journey to net zero. “

Karl-Hendrik Magnus, Senior Partner and Leader of Apparel, Fashion & Luxury, McKinsey & Company, said: “Textile recycling needs to be scaled up quickly to help the fashion industry stay on a 1.5 ° C path. This report emphasizes the often overlooked opportunity of recycling textiles in post-industrial waste. It highlights the power of industry players working together to accelerate change. Circular Fashion Partnership is proof of the power of pre-competitive collaboration, and its model of impact needs to be replicated and scaled up. “

Putting circularity into practice in Bangladesh:

The report presents lessons learned from the Circular Fashion Partnership in Bangladesh. Since its launch in October 2020, the partnership used the Reverse Resources SaaS platform to map and trace over 1,000 tonnes of textile waste in Bangladesh. It is expected to reach over 200 tonnes per month by the end of 2021, a significant achievement in the context of the global pandemic. The analysis presents strong arguments in favor of extending this model to other markets, notably Vietnam, Turkey, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh, claiming that there is a $ 4.5 billion opportunity.

The case study also highlights the critical actions needed to overcome barriers to scaling systems, including: formalizing the informal waste management sector, providing alternatives to current use cases textile waste and ensuring a supply of quality raw materials and demand for recycling products.

Download the full report here.

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