In the aftermath of COP26, Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), a non-profit organization for industry collaboration on sustainability in fashion, has published Scaling Circularity–a report which shall reveal the opportunities and investment required to scale circular fashion systems.
The report, written with GFA’s strategic knowledge partner, McKinsey & Company, concludes that the fashion industry could become 80% circular by 2030 if there is increased investment in existing recycling technologies and infrastructures. 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 case study of textile recycling.
These findings are based on independent analysis and learnings from the Circular Fashion Partnership in Bangladesh–a cross-sectral project to scale post-industrial recycling and capture textile value domestically in Bangladesh.
Since its launch in October 2020, the partnership project 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 a month by the end of 2021. The analysis showcases the strong case for scaling this model to other markets including Vietnam, Turkey, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Bangladesh, claiming there is a US$ 4.5 billion opportunity. The case study also illuminates the critical actions needed to overcome the barriers to scaling systems including: formalizing the informal waste management sector, providing alternatives to current use-cases for textile waste and assuring supply of quality feedstock and demand for recycling output.
According to the report, current technologies have the potential to deliver 75% textile-to-textile recycling into the fashion system, and a further 5% recycled feedstock from other industries. To deliver this scenario, the sector requires at least US$ 5-7 billion capital investment in recycling technologies by 2026, as well as further mobilization of capital towards collection and sorting infrastructure.
The research indicates the business case for investing in recycling infrastructure is attractive if there is greater transparency of the demand for recycled materials and the consistent supply of traceable high-quality feedstock. Through convening influential players throughout the fashion value cycle, developing traceability of waste streams and aligning on mutual incentives, pre-competitive collaborations play a unique role in assuring supply, demand and attracting commercial investment where it is needed at pace. The Circular Fashion Partnership demonstrates this.