Though “circularity” stands poised to be one of the buzzwords of 2021, brands largely remain far out of step with what this sustainable practice requires. According to management firm Kearney, only three out of 100 brands operating in Europe—Levi Strauss, The North Face and Patagonia—have made “acceptable” progress in circularity.
With the industry lagging behind, circularity-focused companies have sprouted up to help it along. In this niche business, two forces are uniting to help facilitate consumer returns.
Denver-based ReCircled announced Wednesday it has acquired the technology company Circlarity.
ReCircled provides infrastructure for the circular economy by facilitating apparel and footwear brands’ transition to a sustainable, fully circular business model, it said. The company operates factories in the United States and Italy designed to receive and sort returned garments into unusable and usable, recycling the former and cleaning, repairing and reselling the latter.
Circlarity technology allows brands to implement, manage and monitor retail customer return programs. Consumers using its interface experience a convenient and engaging sustainability experience, ReCircled said, where each consumer return is trackable, reportable and “personally meaningful.” Brands, meanwhile, maintain full visibility into the sustainable activity and behavior of their customers, as well as receive real-time data that they can use to support their environmental reputation.
Consumer-return technology that makes it easy and convenient for shoppers to return items is the first step in achieving full brand circularity, according to ReCircled CEO Scott Kuhlman.
“Take-back programs have to be adopted not only by brands and retailers, but also, and most importantly, by consumers,” Kuhlman said in a statement. “Consumers need to have the moral incentivization to make the effort to return merchandise when they are finished using it.”
Circlarity founder Ira Baseman said the partnership realizes his vision of take-back-driven circularity. “I look forward to working with the ReCircled team to launch this technology with leading brands and retailers around the world,” he said.