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Global Fashion Agenda hosted an event during the C40 World Mayors Summit in Copenhagen, to explore how local municipalities can be more involved in circular fashion systems. The event gathered a diverse group of participants – ranging from waste collectors to fashion companies to local municipalities – who discussed the collaborative solutions needed to reach future sustainability goals.

Guests listened to insights from speakers including: Maja Johannessen, Policy Research Manager, The Ellen MacArthur Foundation; David Watson, Senior Consultant, PlanMiljø; Sonia Park, Assistant Vice Present, Creative and Applied Tech, New York City Economic Development Corporation; Pernilla Halldin, Global Public Affairs Sustainability, H&M Group; Morten Risom Nielsen, Consultant and Civil Engineer, Lendager TCW and Richard Törnblom, Chief Marketing Officer, Re:NewCell.

Regulators call for local involvement

One of the core topics discussed was how regulators in the EU are introducing new legislation on clothing waste and recycling. The recent EU Waste Directive (adopted by the European Parliament in 2018, part of the EU circular economy package) requires EU Member States to set up schemes at by 2025 that ensure textiles are collected as a separate waste stream. Moving forward, local municipalities will play a pertinent role in the transition to a circular fashion system as they will be responsible for executing the implementation of efficient waste handling schemes; particularly in the EU where separate collection of textiles will be mandatory from 2025.

The need for markets for recycled materials

Others remarked on the benefits of more regulation on textile waste. Pernilla Halldin from H&M Group commented on the lack of markets for recycled materials which has proven to be a hurdle in achieving their goal of only using recycled or sustainably sourced materials by 2030. 

In order to overcome this challenge, H&M has invested in recycle companies to find solutions that can be implemented on a larger scale. David Watson from PlanMiljø, echoed this, calling for investments in the markets for recycled materials in order to make waste collection economically viable and incentivise private textile collectors.

Collaboration and partnerships

It was clear from the discussions that solutions within the market will only be found through collaboration. This was showcased by the efficient partnership ‘#wearnext’, which brought together the Ellen McArthur Foundation and NYCEDC – and facilitated the circular economy within New York City. Richard Törnblom from Re:NewCell, also spoke directly to the designers by urging them to create circular designs, contending that all stakeholders within the value chain should take the recycling processes into account.

The future of circular fashion systems

Looking ahead, Re:NewCell offered solutions for the market for recycled materials by demonstrating the benefits of creating new fibers from textile waste. The Lendager Group, also showed how using textile waste for non-woven materials such as insulation and acoustic panels in the construction industry allows other industries to benefit from recycled textiles.

GFA’s Public Affairs Director, Jonas Eder-Hansen, called for local involvement in the future of fashion systems stating, “Progress in circularity will depend on a collaborative effort among the many actors of the fashion system and municipalities play a very important role. This forum showcased some of the many opportunities that a circular fashion system can create, and I hope it informed and inspired C40 cities for future action.”

Read more about Global Fashion Agenda’s circularity initiatives here and explore the topic further in our CEO Agenda.