CIRCULAR FASHION SYSTEM COMMITMENT
As of August 2020, the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment (2020 Commitment) had been signed by 86 companies, representing 12.5% of the global fashion market.
The Final Report covers year three of the 2020 Commitment and shines a light on signatories’ actions to reach set targets. It seeks to provide an overview of the overall progress for each action point, emphasising key learnings and takeaways to inspire the whole industry with real actions towards a more circular fashion system. In addition, it highlights earlier achievements as well as past and ongoing initiatives and policy updates. The 2020 Commitment was inclusive to companies of all sizes, market segments and stages at which they were on their circularity journey. As of August 2020, signatories have set 207 targets distributed across four 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
Of the 207 targets set by our 86 signatories, almost 2/3’s were successfully reached and, in some cases, exceeded – we believe this to be an incredible achievement for the industry considering the challenges the industry has faced over the past three years and continues to face today.
Progress made on the individual action points is as follows: 68% of targets were reached for Action Point 1 (Design), 56% on Action Point 2 (Collection), 62% for Action Point 3 (Resale) and 67% on Action Point 4 (Recycling).
Targets set within circular design saw the successful delivery of 20 circular design training programmes across product development teams focusing on a number of circular design principles which have since been embedded into design briefs. (To be specific 30 signatories successful integrated circular design principles into some or all design briefs).
Many signatories partnered with educational institutions and thought leaders alike to help shape internal training programmes and tools to aid in material choice selections.
In response to Covid19 many turned to online training that could be carried out from home, others were able to host interactive upcycling and sustainable material selection workshops to engage designers.
The additional creation of internal guidelines and tools enabled our signatories to better understand the circularity potential of their products, however many of our signatories highlighted a lack of common industry understanding and language on circularity and its design principles, leading to a number of individual adaptations.
Many signatories also developed internal policy guidelines for ‘sustainable’ material use and manufacturing processes whilst others focused on external consumer facing guidelines on how to care and repair garments to extend the lifecycle of their clothes.
The key learning taken from this action point is the importance of education beyond design and product development teams, inclusive of consumer audiences and supply chain partners where circularity largely remains a relatively new concept.
Many closely collaborated with suppliers to better cooperate on the design process and source more recycled materials.
The targets set for collection largely focused on increasing consumer touchpoints for garment collection both online and in-store across global markets, many of which were leveraged through a number of external partnerships including Packmee and thredUP.
Larger signatories who have gone about setting up their own collection infrastructures faced high sorting/handling costs, storage, redistribution, and complex reverse logistic streams. Whereas our smaller signatories struggled to find solution partners willing to handle smaller quantities or partners located in the right geographical regions.
Various consumer incentive initiatives and educational campaigns were also developed to educate consumers on responsible clothing disposal. Our signatories found that in order to raise collection volumes, effective and engaging consumer facing communications around collection schemes proved crucial to success.
This year due to local lockdowns and reduced highstreet shopping ambitious collection targets set pre Covid were hit hard however many were able to adapt collection to online platforms and in turn benefitted from better data and transparency of post-consumer waste flows.
COVID-19 has greatly boosted the consumer demand for secondhand clothing which has led our signatories to making resale options more widely available to consumers via a number of physical and online channels, many with the support of collection and re-commerce solution providers including Sellpy and I:CO.
Unpredictable flows of product, both in terms volume and qualities were just some of the challenges faced complicating the planning and execution of resale activities especially during the pandemic.
Many found a severe lack of local infrastructure for upcycling at scale which avoided unsustainable levels of clothing redistribution – solution provider services not located in the right geographical areas.
Continued lack of incentive and awareness amongst consumers has led to prolonged negative perceptions of recycled materials and secondhand products impacting on demand.
It was learnt that increasing these resale touch points gave brands the opportunity to establish longer terms relationships with customers go forward.
Despite the lack of scalable recycling technologies surrounding textile recycling at present, promising technologies were identified, and many signatories were successfully able to incorporate post-consumer waste into their collections.
Our larger signatories also made significant investments to fund research around textile recycling. Whereas our smaller signatories invested into existing solutions (eg Renewcell and Worn Again) and or collaborated with industry bodies (eg Textile Exchange, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, Fashion For Good) to carry out various research and pilots.
Some signatories struggled to access post-consumer textile streams that met quality requirements.
Impact on lead times.
A significant lack of government incentives to pilot or scale recycling technologies and remove trade barriers and regulations which prevent the flow of waste to recycling locations were highlighted.
The above activities (funding/ research) greatly highlighted an opportunity for co-investment and supplier collaboration in order to scale these technologies.