At Copenhagen Fashion Summit 2017, Global Fashion Agenda called on the fashion industry to take action on circularity by signing a commitment as a concrete way to turn words into action. The aim was to increase the number of fashion brands and retailers taking action on circularity in order to accelerate the industry’s transition to a circular fashion system.
To set a direction for this transition, Global Fashion Agenda outlined four immediate action points
1) Implementing design strategies for cyclability
2) Increasing the volume of used garments and footwear collected
3) Increasing the volume of used garments and footwear resold
4) Increasing the share of garments and footwear made from recycled post-consumer textile fibres
By June 2018, the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment (2020 Commitment) had been signed by 94 companies, representing 12.5% of the global fashion market. The companies have committed to take action on one or more of the above action points and to annually report on the progress they are making in implementing their targets. Their commitment illustrates the will to create change, highlighting the urgency and strategic importance of transforming current linear business practices.
Fashion is primarily produced in a linear system of take, make, dispose, with 73% of the world’s clothing eventually ending in landfills or being incinerated. Currently, less than 1% of the material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing, and less than 15% of clothes are collected for recycling (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017). If the fashion industry does not start acting now, the linear model will soon reach its physical limits. According to current forecasts, the world population will exceed 8.5 billion people by 2030, and global garment production will increase by 63%.
The Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017 report showed that most fashion brands have yet to realise the opportunities that accompany an increased focus on the end-of-use phase of the value chain. An accelerated effort is needed to capture important resources from being wasted and to meet future resource demands. If today’s textile collection rate tripled by 2030, it could be worth more than EUR 4 billion for the world economy. This figure merely represents the value of those products that would not end up in landfills. If the industry were to find a way to collect and recycle all fibres, it would boost the value to EUR 80 billion (Ellen MacArthur Foundation, 2017). Besides, the Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2018 report shows that investments in resource efficiency, secure work environments and sustainable materials boost profitability by up to 1-2 percentage points in EBIT margin by 2030.
WHY A COMMITMENT?
Global Fashion Agenda is using its platform to drive action among fashion brands and retailers, a stakeholder group that plays a central role in the fashion value chain, influencing both how a product is made and used. Their commitments have the potential to drive concrete change by signalling to industry stakeholders that circularity is high on their corporate agenda. Brands and retailers can play an important role, but to establish a systematic shift we also need the wider ecosystem, including governments, value chain partners and investors to play their part.
The 2020 Commitment covers four key issues:
1) Taking action: Getting fashion brands and retailers to take action on circularity to increase the industry’s overall performance at the end-of-use phase of the value chain
2) Knowledge sharing: Sharing advice, best practices, lessons learned and solutions to support brands in the transition
3) Policy engagement: Engaging with policymakers to co-develop the wider framework necessary for a circular fashion system
4) Industry alignment: Providing the platform, network and advocacy to ensure that circularity gets lifted, communicated and implemented in the broader fashion industry
12.5% of the global fashion market have committed to circularity
SIGNATORIES & TARGETS
The signatories have set their individual targets for 2020 with the minimum requirement of setting a target within one or more of the four action points. Global Fashion Agenda and BSR have provided guidance to signatories on setting targets; however, it is up to the individual companies to set their own strategy and ambition-level.
The targets set for 2020 are divided between the four action points, with most targets being set within circular design (58%), while the amount of companies that set garment collection (49%) and recycling (46%) targets was fairly even. The fewest targets were set within reuse (24%).