Nonprofit organisation, Global Fashion Agenda, has released its Scaling Circularity report in the wake of the COP26 conference.
The report details the opportunities and investments needed in order to scale circular fashion systems. A key conclusion was that the fashion industry could become 80 percent more circular by 230, so long as there are more investments in recycling technologies.
Precompetitive collaborations are also highly important, as they have the potential to accelerate the transition into sustainable and inclusive growth, which the report determined through studying the case study of textile recycling.
Scaling Circularity, written by GFA’s strategic knowledge partner, McKinsey and Company, based its findings on independent analyses from the Circular Fashion Partnership in Bangladesh. The partnership uses the Reverse Resources SaaS platform in order to map and trace 1000 tonnes of textile waste in Bangladesh.
With the partnership’s textile waste model continuing to grow, and expected to reach 2000 tonnes a month by the end of 2021, the analysis presents a strong argument for scaling the model to other markets. It claims that there is a 4.5 billion dollar opportunity, with the case study also highlighting the actions needed to overcome the barriers to scaling systems, such as formalising the informal waste management sector and providing different methods to current use-cases for textile waste.
“Textile recycling must be rapidly scaled to help the fashion industry remain on a 1.5 Celsius path. This report emphasises the often-overlooked opportunity for textile recycling in post-industrial waste. It highlights the power of industry stakeholders working together to accelerate change,” said senior partner and leader of the Apparel, Fashion and Luxury Group, McKinsey and Company, Karl-Hendrik Magnus.
Recycling technologies were also found to have better environmental outcomes in GHG emissions, water depletion and land use. The technologies are potentially more cost effective than using virgin materials.
“This research proves the necessary recycling technologies exist, deliver huge improvements in environmental impact and that the economies work at scale. The challenge is providing conditions for scaling. With sufficient investment, supportive policies, and by enabling precompetitive collaborations, I am optimistic that we can create a profitable circular system,” said CEO of Global Fashion Agenda, Federica Marchionni.
Scaling Circularity emphasises the importance of greater transparency in the demand for recycled materials, as it will increase the attractiveness of investing in recycling infrastructure.
Precompetitive collaborations are also key in providing supply, demand and commercial investment where it is needed - something which can be achieved through convening fashion players throughout the fashion value cycle, developing a tracing system for waste streams and aligning on mutual incentives.
Further findings noted that current technologies have the potential to deliver 75 percent textile-to-textile recycling into the fashion system. For this to become a reality however, the industry will require a 5 to 7 billion dollar capital investment in recycling technologies by 2026.