Several leading American brands and retailers, including Gap Inc. and Target, have thrown their support behind a new collaborative project designed to accelerate the textile industry’s shift from a linear take-make-dispose model to a circular one where nothing becomes waste.
Spearheaded by the nonprofit Textile Exchange, and funded with a grant from the Walmart Foundation, Accelerating Circularity will begin its focus on researching, mapping and identifying opportunities to create circular supply chains based on the mechanical and chemical recycling of cotton, viscose and polyester textile waste.
The three fibers account for more than 80 percent of all textile fiber production and are “therefore important to focus,” Textile Exchange notes. Future phases of Accelerating Circularity will leverage data from this discovery stage to extend the program to geographies beyond the United States.
Accelerating Circularity’s founding partners include Gap Inc., Target and VF Corp., which have also contributed funding, along with Giotex, Gr3, Lenzing, Unifi, Revolve Waste and Fabrikology International on the technology and manufacturing ends.
The project will also involve industry stakeholders such as the American Apparel & Footwear Association, the Apparel Impact Institute, Circle Economy, Outdoor Industry Association, The Renewal Workshop and the United States Fashion Industry Association to “share information, amplify key messages and streamline efforts.”
“Shifting the apparel industry toward more circular solutions is a complex challenge with significant technical, economic and business implications,” Alice Hartley, senior manager of sustainable innovation at Gap Inc. and a board member of Accelerating Circularity, said in a statement.
“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,” she added. “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.”
Fifteen million tons of textile waste is generated annually in the United States alone, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.