Waste a valuable resource and should be considered as such in the design phase.
The design phase needs to address the eventual product’s end-of-life. The materials, purpose and durability should be factored into the design. This helps avoid products that are only partially circular.
If brands are incentivised to make products with better environmental performance, it will help them take ownership in designing for circularity.
A good example is found in the Jeans ReDesignGuidelines, a project that tackles waste and pollution within Denim production.
Two of the main ways to reduce waste within materials is through using materials that last longer, and by leveraging the potential value of a global recycling industry.
For longer lasting products, we need to promote the use of the least impactful materials based on their purpose. For example, trekking gear that remains sturdy – trek after trek.
To create a global recycling value chain, the industry is investigating the optimised use of renewable, regenerative, recycled and recyclable materials, as well as promoting the use of secondary raw materials.
Optimising the production process is a logical step to reduce waste. We can look at the waste of materials as well as production waste, such as GHG emissions and waste water.
There are several initiatives in place that we should leverage to gain fast results, such as ZDHC for the elimination of chemical waste during production.
For the reduction of GHG emissions, many stakeholders in the apparel and footwear industry have committed to the Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Change by the UN. Those who want to go the extra mile can also commit to the SBTI.
Arguably the most important contribution to the reduction of waste comes with changing consumption habits.
The promotion of secondhand goods over new ones helps decrease new production. Also, the promotion of product life prolonging services through new business models can have a vast impact on any item’s lifecycle.
Current industry's investments in accessible reuse, repair & rental schemes will help consumers become involved and responsible participants.
The combination of industry leadership, awareness of sustainable options throughout the value chain and a consistent set of policy and market incentives will create a level playing field for those products, business models and initiatives that optimise the use of resources and retain the highest possible value in products and materials, hence minimising waste.
The current research and innovation in advanced sorting infrastructure will contribute to the reduction of waste, it is also an emerging industry with great potential value. On top of that, it creates engaged consumers who have the opportunity to become ambassadors.
Looking back, the Policy Hub’s two-year progress report reflects on how our policy work started introducing our partner organisations and providing key highlights, such as the number of contributions we submitted to the European Commission. The report also discusses how the Policy Hub has been guiding the industry to become more sustainable.
Comparable and reliable claims require a common methodology to assess the impact of a product. Hence in its position paper, the Policy Hub is asking the EU to impose one common methodology and database for making green claims about a product. This is a major change as currently companies are free to choose any methodology to assess the impact of their products. Also, vague and ambiguous blanket claims such as "sustainable product" should be prohibited as they are misleading. Other claims related to sustainability need to follow a vigorous substantiation protocol in order to ensure that they are accurate and understandable to the average consumer.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the global economy. The apparel, textile and footwear industry is no exception. This crisis coincides with sustainability programs and commitments have increasingly becoming the industry norm and steps towards achieving a circular economy and carbon neutrality are taken. Shifting the economy to a more circular one requires all hands on deck and is a collaborative effort by citizens, industry and policymakers who can build upon both existing commitments and new initiatives together. The Policy Hub proposes seven key principles that should serve as a roadmap to ensure economic recovery while also driving the development towards a circular economy.
Vision of the Policy Hub on how to include circular economy principles at the design stage of product development.
The Policy Hub supports the European Commission’s initiative to address the challenge of textile waste and welcomes the consideration of extended producer responsibility (EPR) as an option to implement the regulatory requirement to separately collect textiles by 2025.
The value of creating circular business models has been recognised for many of the EU’s waste streams and within the circular economy agenda – from plastics to electronics to cars – thanks to the substantial benefits to be gained both in environmental and financial terms. Textiles have been identified as one of the waste streams with the highest untapped potential to implement circular practices.