Over 30 renowned fashion brands, manufacturers and recyclers are participating in a new initiative to capture and reuse textile waste in Bangladesh.
Bershka, Bestseller, C&A, Gina Tricot, Grey State, H&M Group, Kmart Australia, Marks & Spencer, OVS, Pull & Bear, Peak Performance and Target Australia are among the participating brands, according to a media release issued on Wednesday.
The Global Fashion Agenda, the leading forum for industry collaboration and public-private cooperation on fashion sustainability, has finalised the brands, manufacturers and recyclers to collaborate for the new Circular Fashion Partnership, a project that will aim to develop and implement new systems to capture and direct post-production fashion waste back into the production of new fashion products.
In addition, the partnership seeks to find solutions for the Covid-19 related pile-up of deadstock and to engage regulators and investors around the current barriers and economic opportunities in the country.
Through collaboration among the participants, the partnership aims to build a successful business model for adopting more circular processes. It plans to facilitate a decrease in textile waste and increase the use of recycled fibres, distributing value throughout the fashion value cycle and generating economic benefits in Bangladesh by accelerating the fibre recycling market.
The initiative is focusing on Bangladesh as it arguably possesses the most in-demand and recyclable waste of any garment producing country, but the majority of its waste is currently being exported or downcycled.
Therefore, there is a substantial opportunity to make it a leader in circularity by scaling the recycling capacity in the country and generating more value from these waste streams. Following the hardships in the country generated by Covid-19, this approach also aims to build industry resilience for the future.
At the end of 2021, the forum will publish a "Circularity Playbook for Bangladesh", which will be used as a guide to replicate the partnership in other countries, such as Vietnam and Indonesia.
The initiative is being supported by Reverse Resources, the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and P4G.
"To establish a circular fashion system, we need to reimagine the production process so that it appreciates the value of textile waste," said Morten Lehmann, chief sustainability officer at Global Fashion Agenda.
"It is encouraging to see so many prestigious companies sign up to the Circular Fashion Partnership and, with their help, I am confident that we can demonstrate a strong business model for circularity that can be mirrored by others in the future, he added.
Miran Ali, director of the BGMEA, said, "Circular economy is not merely just a concept; it is the future. The fashion industry is historically following the linear model of business 'take-make-dispose', but now we stand at such a critical juncture where we cannot afford to continue this linear model."
"Moreover, demand for circular apparel is increasing and brands are coming with pledges towards it, so as manufacturers we have to embrace it and align ourselves with the global trend. Bangladeshi factories typically produce larger volumes of the same item, meaning that waste is more standardized. Therefore, Bangladesh can be a global leader in the area of the circular economy. We believe Circular Fashion Partnership is a good platform to start the journey," he added.
Reverse Resources Chief Executive Officer Ann Runnel said while brands are making strong commitments and targets towards circularity, there are not many scalable options for circulating and handling waste.
"In this project, we turn our attention to practical solutions that many best recycling technologies face when sourcing textile waste and use traceability as a tool to help them lower costs and increase the quality of the waste they source. Post-production waste is currently the low hanging fruit for supporting this emerging recycling industry to start closing the loop at scale, whilst we prepare for the even greater challenge of circulating post-consumer waste," he also said.
Leila Yim Surratt, director of strategy and engagement at P4G, said, "The Circular Fashion Partnership is an excellent example of how P4G's dynamic network in Bangladesh and action-oriented global ecosystem can work together to deliver transformative impact in an industry that is critical to Bangladesh's economic recovery. We look forward to unlocking the investment potential of this partnership and providing opportunities to share Bangladesh's leadership with other P4G country partners like Vietnam and Indonesia."