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The Ellen MacArthur Foundation: A vision of a circular economy for fashion

by | Nov 6, 2020

Ten-year-old global ‘thought leader’ in circular-thinking, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation has released its vision of a circular economy for fashion. In a circular economy, waste and pollution are designed out, and products and materials are kept in use for as long as possible. For the fashion industry, this means that “products (apparel, footwear, and accessories) are used more, made to be made again, and made from safe and recycled or renewable inputs”.

The purpose of the vision is to act as a guideline with a list of targets that government, industry and society can work towards to achieve ‘closed-loop’ systems.

To achieve circularity in fashion, designers need to address the following:

  • A product should be made with its lifespan in mind which means taking into account durability, reuse and repair.
  • A product should be ‘made to be made again’ through processes like composting, design for disassembly, recycling, or remaking.
  • A product should have safe and recycled or renewable inputs through studying, and reforming points like hazardous substances, microfibres, recycled material, regenerative production practices, renewable material and waste.
  • A product made with the circular economy vision in mind must be transparent and each step in the manufacturing process must be able to be tracked and traced.

The vision states that “a circular economy for fashion creates better products and services for customers, contributes to a thriving fashion industry, and regenerates the environment. It presents the opportunity to tackle the root causes of global challenges such as climate change, waste, and pollution.”

To achieve the vision of a circular economy in fashion, the foundation rightly says that it will require collaborative efforts by industry and government, significant investments, large-scale innovation, transparency, and traceability.

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