What is the Circular Fashion Partnership?
The Circular Fashion Partnership is a cross-sectoral initiative to support the development of effective circular fashion systems in textile, garment and footwear manufacturing regions, by capturing and recycling post-industrial fashion waste. The partnership seeks solutions to maintain the highest possible value output, following a waste hierarchy approach, and ultimately aims to accelerate textile-to-textile recycling to reintroduce ‘waste’ materials back into fashion products.
Currently active in Bangladesh and Cambodia, the partnership demonstrates shared responsibility by facilitating circular commercial collaborations between manufacturers, recyclers and fashion brands. A successful business case will demonstrate a decrease in textile waste and increase of recycled fibres, distributing value throughout the value chain and generating economic benefits in manufacturing regions. Furthermore, the partnership engages enabling actors to identify and address barriers for scale, such as supportive policy and investment.
Brands, manufacturers, collectors, sorters and textile recyclers are eligible to participate in the Circular Fashion Partnership when they are committed to demonstrating shared responsibility for the valorisation of post-industrial textile waste.
In circular commercial collaborations, they work to segregate, digitally trace and recycle textile waste into the highest possible value output, ultimately being new fashion products.
Learnings from Circular Fashion Partnerships in different regions are anonymised and aggregated for dissemination with the broader industry and depending on the insights captured, engagement with enabling actors is pursued to establish a conducive environment for scaling of solutions, for instance with government representatives and investors.
Current focus areas
The Circular Fashion Partnership is currently activated in Bangladesh and Cambodia, with a forthcoming initiative in Vietnam.
The Circular Fashion Partnership (CFP) in Bangladesh was established in 2021 as an cross-sectoral initiative aimed at facilitating the growth of the recycling industry by effectively capturing and redirecting post-production fashion waste back into the production cycle, thereby contributing to the creation of new fashion products. This project is being implemented in close collaboration with the Bangladesh Garment Manufacturers and Exporters Association (BGMEA) and Reverse Resources, with the support of esteemed brand partners including H&M Group, Primark, United Colors of Benetton, Bestseller, Teddy Group, and OVS. Over the span of three years, CFP Bangladesh has successfully garnered the participation of more than 20 renowned brands and retailers, 85 manufacturers, as well as 36 waste management companies and recyclers.
As of the end of April 2023, the manufacturing partners involved in the project have registered an impressive 8,500 tons of waste on the Reverse Resources platform. Notably, approximately 40% of this waste has already been traced to esteemed high-end recycling companies.
Furthermore, in collaboration with our esteemed partners, we are actively engaging with the Bangladesh government to formalise the informal waste management sector. This includes introducing incentives and tax deductions to incentivise manufacturers to embrace recycling practices and establishing a comprehensive national policy for the sustainable management of post-production fashion waste.
The Circular Fashion Partnership (CFP) in Cambodia is dedicated to fostering collaboration and driving sustainable practices within the country’s fashion industry. Our primary objective is to promote circularity by actively reducing textile waste, implementing cutting-edge recycling technologies, and cultivating circular business models.
This month, we achieved significant milestones in line with our objectives. Through a collaborative effort with GIZ and the Responsible Business Hub, we organized a high-impact event that successfully brought together representatives from the Cambodian government, prominent brands, manufacturers, recyclers, and industry experts.
The insights garnered from these discussions have proven invaluable in enhancing our understanding of the challenges and opportunities faced by the Cambodian fashion industry. Through this process, we have identified the critical need for stakeholder collaboration, improved access to desired textile waste raw materials, and the prioritization of textile-to-textile recycling.
We are delighted to announce the forthcoming launch of the Circular Fashion Partnership (CFP) in Vietnam, scheduled to take place towards the end of this year.
Building upon the resounding success of the Circular Fashion Partnership in Bangladesh, we are expanding our efforts to foster sustainable practices and promote circularity within Vietnam’s burgeoning fashion industry. Given Vietnam’s rapidly growing textile sector and its potential to emerge as a prominent player in the global fashion landscape, it is imperative to address the challenges posed by textile waste and develop innovative circular business models.
CFP Vietnam will serve as a dynamic platform, bringing together key stakeholders from manufacturers, brands, recyclers, and government entities to collaborate and explore pioneering solutions. Through this program, our overarching aim is to facilitate knowledge exchange, foster collaboration, and drive positive change within Vietnam’s fashion industry.
We cordially invite all industry stakeholders in Vietnam to join us in this exciting endeavor. By working together, we can effect transformative change within the fashion industry and contribute to a more sustainable future.
Switch to Circular Economy Value Chains
As part of UNIDO’s Switch to Circle Economy value chains programme spanning plastics, electronics and textiles, BESTSELLER with support of GFA, BGMEA and Reverse Resources is the lead applicant on the BESTSELLER – Switch to Upstream Circularity Pilot.
About the initiative
Switch to Circular Economy Value Chains is an initiative that assists EU multinational companies and their suppliers from developing countries to switch to more circular economy approaches and practices in three selected value chains: Plastic Packaging, Textile & Garments, and ICT and Electronics. The overall objective of SWITCH to Circular Economy Value Chain Project is to support the “Transformation towards a circular economy”, including to contribute to sustainable growth, low carbon and climate resilient development, decent jobs creation, and safer, healthier, and pollution-free environment. SWITCH is co-funded by the European Union and the Government of Finland, and implemented by UNIDO, in collaboration with Chatham House, Circle Economy, and the European Investment Bank.
About BESTSELLER Pilot
Bangladesh has yet to take advantage of its access to huge volumes of recyclable waste and production capabilities and accordingly invest in supporting infrastructure to develop a thriving textile recycling industry – a more active recycling industry, technology, as well as knowledge and awareness of the potential economic benefits of adopting formal and digitally verified circular value cycles can contribute towards this goal.
With the SWITCH2CE support, BESTSELLER works on scaling up traceable textile recycling with suppliers in Bangladesh, capturing, and valorising high volumes of post-industrial textile waste. This will provide manufacturers with long-term circular business solutions, reducing dependency on virgin materials and increasing the availability of recycled materials. The main goal is to achieve a long-term, scalable and just transition to a circular textile system in Bangladesh and beyond.
Scaling of textile-to-textile recycling in Bangladesh can help capture immediate opportunity of post-industrial waste and is a steppingstone to preparing the country to process post use waste. According to estimations from the Circular Fashion Partnership project, Bangladesh could reduce its annual virgin cotton imports by 15% and save over $500 million (or $0.5 billion), if it recycles just its 100% cotton waste domestically.
The long-term outcomes of the pilot include contributing to increase of recycling capacities of Bangladesh. This pilot aims to research scaled (domestic) diversity of recycling solutions. The pilot aims to develop strong business cases in collaboration with select manufacturers in order to strengthen the waste collection and recycling business case. Finally, the pilot aims to achieve an industry-wide acknowledgement of circular system opportunities (for/with) manufacturers through its cross-sectoral collaborations.
Bridging compliance and due diligence in circular value chains is instrumental for creating an inclusive circular fashion system that benefits all –inclusion and engagement of those currently controlling the waste flows is also needed.
Availability of key services like quality control, logistics and storage, a formalised waste handling network is fundamental for waste handlers. Therefore, waste handlers can secure long term stable business opportunities and have access to higher value recyclers whose contamination requirements they might not have previously been able to meet without the waste segregation at source.
Conducive policy environment is needed to support these developments. Also, taxation, tariffs, import/export etc. need to be considered to enable a circular textiles segment in Bangladesh.
Events & resources
Textile Waste Opportunities for Circular Textiles, Garments & Footwear in Cambodia
Global Fashion Agenda and GIZ are organising an event on May 16th in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to explore opportunities of valorising textile waste and creating circular business models in fashion & footwear manufacturing that bring value to the region.
OECD Side Event: The interplay of Due Diligence and Upstream Circular Fashion Systems
GFA is hosting a side session at the OECD Forum on Due Diligence in the Garment and Footwear Sector that will discuss the connection between establishing circular fashion systems and mandatory Human Rights & Environmental Due Diligence.
Do you want to help us accelerate circularity in the fashion industry? We welcome further cooperation with other industry organisations, brands, retailers, investors, grantors, solution providers, academia and more. We invite you to share thoughts with us.