ISPO Panel: Teaming up for Circularity

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ISPO Panel: Teaming up for Circularity

Circularity can be considered a critical sustainability theme within the fashion and textiles industry. The European Commission Green Deal and Circular Economy Action Plan has named the textile industry as one of its priority areas. Industry wide challenges require action and collaboration in order to make impact. The ISPO Munich panel took a deep dive into the world of collaboration in circularity. 

Speaking with James Tarrier, Director of Platform Innovation at adidas, Katrin Ley, Managing Director at Fashion for Good and Helena Braun, Member of Cabinet, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans at European Commission. The session gathered insights from the panelists who shared their view on circularity and The New Cotton Project. 

The New Cotton Project

In a world first for the fashion industry, twelve pioneering players are coming together to break new ground by demonstrating an entirely circular model for commercial garment production.

Katrin Ley said “The opposite of circular is a linear model, and that is what we are experiencing mostly today in the fashion industry. Which is a process that starts from raw material extraction and has typically a process of creating garments in a rather resource intense way, eventually a majority of those products will end up in landfill. 

What we are working towards is a closed loop circular model, which means taking the waste of one process and using that as input and feedstock for a new process and product. Making sure we use resources in the most efficient way, with no harmful chemicals etc.

To achieve that, clearly ‘business as usual’ doesn’t work; you need innovation at scale, and that requires various parties to come together and collaborate.”

The new cotton project is being supported by the EU’s horizon 2020 programme. It aims to demonstrate and launch a high performance biodegradable regenerated new cotton textile to consumers, using an innovative supply chain and the technology of Infinited Fiber Company who are hosting this consortium. The fibres will be used to create different types of fabrics for clothing that will be designed, manufactured and sold by global brand adidas and companies in the H&M Group. The project also aims to act as an inspiration and steppingstone for further, larger, circular initiatives in the industry going forward.

“Circularity requires innovation and collaboration, in an orchestrated way, ideally there is a disruptive innovator, there is a brand that can signal demand, but you need collaboration across the supply chain. And that includes manufacturers, recyclers, funders and policy makers to come together to help scale innovation.“ said Katrin. 

adidas has a strategy towards becoming more circular as a company. Working with companies and projects like the New Cotton Project is a way to stay ahead on leading innovations and support this strategy. 

“Our role within this consortium is to try to make sure all the right pieces of the puzzle are there, from the waste collecting to the sorting, from the new fiber creation all the way to garment. And then how we interact with the consumer when we are trying to launch a product which is designed and made to be remade.” James Terrier states The beauty of it is if we are successful we already have all the best actors across Europe and a ready made supply chain to really scale this quickly and engage the consumer, to make ourselves and the industry more circular.” 

Helena spoke about the recent EU adopted Circular Economy Action Plan. This is changing how products are designed, produced and consumed in the EU market and ensuring sustainable products become the market norm. 

One of the key initiatives the EU are putting into place is the Sustainable Product Policy Legislation, which they are planning to adopt by the end of 2021. This outlines how products need to become more durable, recyclable, repairable and looks at new business models. Helena states “The New Cotton Project is crucial to support this initiative.” 

The final words from Katrin “We truly believe that a consortium type set up, that involves the supply chain, that involves brands, that involves funders and policy makers, is really what it takes to scale these innovations. We believe this is the holy grail to move the innovations forward on the road to scale”.  

“No one brand or organization can really drive the change to circularity all by themselves.” added James “Where the EU have led in previous legislation, others will follow.”

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