An industry-led initiative wants to redirect waste streams in the interests of circularity.
In a new report, Accelerating Circularity, Inc. proposed how the interactions between brands, consumers, collectors and recyclers could be redesigned, while etching material flows into a new kind of circular textile-textile system. Funded by retailers like Walmart and some of its members, the organization has executives from Lenzing, Target, VF Corp., Gap and other members of its steering committee.
“The future of circular textile-textile systems must begin now,” said Karla Magruder, Founder and President of Accelerating Circularity, which founded the organization in 2019 with the goal of taking fashion from linear to circular. “Our models include both old and new players in the system to support the transition to robust circularity.”
This spring, the organization will launch what it calls its circular textile system trials after just a year of research on textiles, collectors, sorters, preprocessors and recyclers.
The report, which introduces a revamped hierarchy of textile use cases (typically reuse, resale, repair before remade products can occur), highlighted the need for quality raw materials (the value of which must be captured by customers). brands) and mechanical and chemical recycling technologies, while offering sorting matrices for maximum efficiency and value capture.
Existing and new links or interactions along the supply chain are showcased with brands and retailers, collectors and sorters, recyclers and consumers, each actively participating in new ways. To bring the organization’s vision to life, hypothetical textile-to-textile “stories” are told with products like circular denim, t-shirts and towels, where value is primarily captured in the United States.
For jeans, the model described the use of Refibra, a combination of 30 percent textile-based pulp and 70 percent wood pulp from sustainably managed forests. Textile for pulp is collected in the Southeast, while the fiber mill is located in Alabama. Recycled cotton, or rCotton, is collected and processed in the Southeast and made from organic cotton grown in Texas. Then the fiber is shipped to Mississippi where it is spun into yarn, and the rest of the fabric and garment is produced in California – later to be shipped to American brands and retailers.
It remains to be seen how a global circular mode system – particularly with regard to reuse – would be mapped.
The United States is the world’s largest exporter of used clothing, with a trade value of the goods of some $ 738 million, with the United Kingdom behind the figure of $ 200 million in 2019, according to an analysis by February export data from Statista. Many of this used clothing is not sold by clothing donors, finding its way to markets in Ghana where used clothing is in excess – a condition exacerbated by the pandemic.
While circularity becomes tangible with textile-textile recycling which is already breaking new barriers (partners like chemical recycler Renewcell and vintage wholesaler Bank and Vogue have pledged to recycle 30,000 tonnes of used clothing each year) and that waste streams increase, how future circular textile shaped systems can create many winners and losers – depending on how opportunities and gaps are addressed.
In this essay, Accelerating Circularity hopes to address the environmental, social, and economic impacts of benchmarks in long-term impact studies.
For more information, see:
‘Unprecedented’ clothing donations create shoddy situation
Behind the Swedish partnership for the intensification of textile recycling
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