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Textile waste focus of Accelerating Circularity project

By Michelle Russell | 5 March 2020

An apparel industry collaborative project has launched, aimed at accelerating the textile sector's move from linear to circular.

Textile Exchange's Accelerating Circularity project received a grant from The Walmart Foundation, with funding also from Gap Inc, Target and VF Corp.

The initiative is initially focused on researching, mapping and identifying opportunities to pilot circular supply chains, which will be driven by the mechanical and chemical recycling of cotton, viscose and polyester textile waste. These three fibres cover over 80% of all textile fibre production.

Future phases will use 'phase one' data and information to execute pilots and establish new research in other geographies.

"Shifting the apparel industry toward more circular solutions is a complex challenge with significant technical, economic, and business implications," says Alice Hartley, senior manager of sustainable innovation at Gap Inc and board member of Accelerating Circularity. "At Gap Inc, we have a responsibility to protect the environment and reduce waste at every stage of our production process — from design, to sourcing, to manufacturing. As we address the full life cycle of our garments, we look forward to working with these partners to collaborate, advance efforts and share learnings with the wider industry for the health of our planet."

With figures from the Environmental Protection Agency showing that 15m tonnes of textile waste is generated annually in the US alone, partners of the new initiative say the textile industry must move from a "take, make, waste" system to a circular one, in order to avoid the massive amounts of textile waste put into landfills annually.

The Accelerating Circularity founding project partners include Gap Inc, Giotex, Gr3n, Target, VF Corp, Lenzing, Unifi, Revolve Waste, and Fabrikology International Inc. They are ensuring broad stakeholder representation by collaborating with industry organisations on this work including sharing information, amplifying key messages, and the streamlining of efforts.

These organisations include American Apparel & Footwear Association, Apparel Impact Institute, Circle Economy, Outdoor Industry Association, Textile Exchange, The Renewal Workshop, and United States Fashion Industry Association.

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