The Circular Fashion Partnership is a cross-sectorial project to support the development of the textile recycling industry in Bangladesh by capturing and directing 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.
The partnership facilitates circular commercial collaborations between textile and garment manufacturers, recyclers and fashion brands operating in Bangladesh. A successful business case will demonstrate 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.
Global Fashion Agenda leads the project in collaboration with Reverse Resources and BGMEA and with support of P4G.
The partnership facilitates circular commercial collaborations between textile and garment manufacturers, recyclers and fashion brands operating in Bangladesh and addresses two topics: post-production textile waste and deadstock.
Participants are supported in implementing a business model for post-production textile waste across the fashion value cycle. In relation to deadstock, research is being conducted to understand the current context in Bangladesh and the implications of COVID19. Following which three potential solutions will be designed and tested.
Scaling up the circular production of new garments made from post-production waste streams such as textile scraps in Bangladesh.
Stage 1: Traceability and recapturing of waste streams
Manufacturers in Bangladesh work together with partner brands and with support of Reverse Resources to set up segregation of waste cuttings within their facility. Manufacturers sell contamination-free, higher-value waste at a premium price through a streamlined handling process. The waste streams are matched with a recycling solution, offering a ‘one-stop-solution’ with traceability to all involved parties.
Stage 2: Circulating waste back into the value chain
After the waste streams are rerouted to recycling solutions, project participants will evaluate the opportunity to circulate these waste streams back into production. The material price will be moderate (not exceeding virgin), fully traceable and at the highest achievable quality. Product samples can be developed, and testing performed as per brand participants requirements.
Co-create and implement a solution for deadstock fabrics piled up as a result of COVID-19 in Bangladesh.
While developing the Circular Fashion Partnership project early 2020, the effects of the first COVID19 lockdowns in Europe were felt in Bangladesh. Retail lockdowns lead to abruptly cancelled orders, delayed and denied payments and build-up of deadstock and overstock, creating severe liquidity challenges for manufacturers.
It was imperative to address the immediate issues our local team and partners in Bangladesh were facing in their operations, and we therefore expanded the partnership objectives to include (COVID-related pile up of) deadstock as a waste stream for which we would explore a business model.
Together with project participants, organisers GFA and Reverse Resources are researching the challenges and scoping the opportunities of deadstock management. Three solutions are being designed and tested to determine a viable business case that would distribute value across all actors, maintain the value of deadstock materials following the waste hierarchy and by doing so, reduce environmental impacts.
Systemic transformation is only possible in collaboration with all ecosystem actors. The Circular Fashion Partnership strives to not only facilitate collaborations across the sector, but to also to collaborate with impact-oriented organisations specialised in textile recycling and adjacent stakeholders.
Global Fashion Agenda leads the Circular Fashion Partnership in collaboration with Reverse Resources and BGMEA and with support of P4G.
In addition to the organising partners responsible for implementation of the project, the CFP has a Steering Group that convenes monthly and comprises of GFA, Reverse Resources, BGMEA, OVS Spa, Bestseller, Tarasima Apparels Ltd, Cyclo and P4G.
Affiliate partners of the Circular Fashion Partnership contribute moreover through sharing knowledge, network, exposure and unlocking investment opportunities for the development of the textile recycling industry in Bangladesh.
Benetton, Bershka, Bestseller, C&A, Gina Tricot, Grey State, H&M Group, Fashion Cube, Gymshark, Kiabi, Kmart Australia, Marks & Spencer, OVS, Pull & Bear, Peak Performance, Primark, Simple Approach, Target Australia, Teddy SPA,The Very Group,
AKM Knitwear, Aman Group, Asrotex, Aukotex, Beximco, Bitopi Group (Tarasima), Cute Dress, Echotex Ltd, Epillyon, Fakir Fashions, Fakir Knitwear, Genesis, GMS, Impress, Interstoff, J.M. Fabrics JL Sweaters, Knit Asia Group, MAS Intimates, Meghna Knit Composite, Natural Denim Ltd., Norp Knit Industries Ltd. Unit-2, Northern, Ocean Sweaters Ltd, Ratul Group (Knitwear & Fabric), Reedisha Group, Rising Tex, Sakura, SB Style, Shasha Garments, Tarasima Group, Urmi, Vintage (ABA Group)
Birla Cellulose, BlockTexx, BPCL, Circ, Circular Systems, Cyclo, Eco Life, Infinited Fiber Company, Malek Spinning Mills, Marchi & Fildi Spa, Natural Fiber Welding, Officina 39, Lenzing AG, Recovertex, Renewcell, Saraz Fibre Tech, Usha Yarns Limited and Worn Again Technologies
By establishing circular systems in Bangladesh, the project aims to facilitate a decrease in textile waste and increase the use of recycled fibres. Transitioning from virgin to recycled materials reduces the demand of raw materials, CO2 emissions, water consumption, water pollution, land and fertiliser use, and eutrophication related to the production of textiles.
Although the project does not specifically address human rights, social responsibility and labour conditions, it does address systemic change in the fashion industry. Our aim is to identify an inclusive infrastructure for circular fashion in Bangladesh with a business model that distributes value across the different actors and that can offer industry resilience for the future.
The fashion industry has to decouple value from growth to drastically reduce its use of natural resources and GHG emissions. This transition could negatively impact a production country such as Bangladesh that is dependent on the (current system of the) fashion industry for over 11% of its GDP. A new circular system therefore must be developed in close collaboration with all actors and stakeholders, with understanding and mitigation of the potential disruption a new system can cause, for instance for jobs and the informal sector. Upholding standards for the respect of universal human rights for all people employed along the value chain, social responsibility and fair labour conditions are integral to a new fashion system that can thrive while generating prosperity for people and communities and restoring our planet.
Through the collaborative nature of the project, we aim to address issues and integrate solutions at a foundational level. The partnership facilitates collaborations between brands, manufacturers and recyclers and engages stakeholders such as regulators and investors around the current barriers and economic opportunities.
All brand participants subscribe to at least one of the following international frameworks for responsible business conduct:
– UN Global Compact
– UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
– OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises
– ILO decent work agenda
– UN Global Compact
The consequences of COVID19 highlighted the many systemic failures of the fashion industry. Within the Circular Fashion Partnership, we are seeking long-term solutions for a thriving industry that brings prosperity to people and communities and restores our planet.
Our aim is to build an inclusive infrastructure for circular fashion in Bangladesh with a business model that distributes value across the different actors and that can offer industry resilience for the future. Post-production waste is a low hanging fruit to support the emerging recycling industry in Bangladesh and there’s a significant economic opportunity to start closing the loop at scale.
During the first wave of COVID-19 there was a sizeable overstock and deadstock pile-up in Bangladesh and other production countries. This could happen again if supply chains are disrupted due to further COVID-19 restrictions or for instance consequences of the climate crisis. A long-term and structural solution for inventory / deadstock management, such as real-time inventory systems and online marketplaces, are examples of solutions we are testing scenarios within the partnership.
The initiative is focussing 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. There is a substantial opportunity to make Bangladesh a leader in circularity by scaling the recycling capacity in the country and generating more value from these waste streams.
Exporting of textile waste from Bangladesh (in most cases to India for downcycling) and lack of high-level recycling capacity means a massive resource loss for the country currently. On the same extent it also represents a huge opportunity to demonstrate how waste could be redirected at scale to higher value chains and the country’s total GDP growth could be linked with regenerated revenues from the same resources by closing the loop for the fashion industry. If the same $71 million revenue from selling waste to other countries could be increased by 10-30 times through selling recycled fabrics to global fashion brands, it could become a massive positive success-story for circular economy. This could again be replicated to other major garment and footwear manufacturing countries such as Vietnam and Indonesia.
How to get involved
For brands, manufacturers and recycling solutions participation in the ongoing Circular Fashion Partnership is currently closed. In 2022, the organisers do hope to continue the project and to expand it to other production countries, such as Vietnam or possibly Indonesia.