Fashion Positive has released the first Circular Materials Guidelines for a notoriously pollutive sector.
The group’s new guidelines are meant to help align the apparel, footwear and textile industries on what circular fibers are and how design can make them ready for a circular economy for the fashion industry.
Circular fibers and yarns are critical to developing clothes and footwear that are cleaner, safer, and designed for the highest value and long-lasting use, Fashion Positive said. In such a circular economy, products are designed to be effectively disassembled for reuse or to be remade, and ultimately recycled or, where relevant, composted, for a new life.
Fashion Positive, a nonprofit initiative with a mission of leading the vision, definition and use of safe and circular materials for the fashion industry, said designing for the circular economy reduces the “massive negative impact” the fashion industry has on the planet and people. It cited estimates that the fashion industry produces up to 10 percent of global carbon emissions, consumes 79 trillion liters of water and generates 92 million metric tons of waste every year in the current “take, make waste” model.
Innovators, brands and manufacturers are working to change that, the group noted, but until now, the industry has lacked alignment on the requirements necessary to design for the future circular system. The development of the Circular Materials Guidelines by Fashion Positive, in close collaboration with industry stakeholders, aims to define a roadmap through “better” and “best” recommendations to incorporate recycled or reclaimed feedstock into fiber content, address chemical safety, cleaner water and renewable energy.
The purpose is to enable materials to be circulated for endless use, rather than ending up incinerated or in a landfill to further pollute the planet.
“The fashion industry won’t survive anymore in a ‘make, take, waste’ approach,” Megan Stoneburner, director of sustainability and sourcing at Outerknown, said. “Companies need to implement long-term sustainability strategies that meet ambitions for a circular economy. Fashion Positive’s Circular Materials Guidelines are critical to helping the industry and leaders align on expectations and systems required to start moving toward circularity and creating systems change.”
Sasha Radovich, executive director of Fashion Positive, said the Guidelines are the first step on the road to more circular fiber creation and use.
“We are not looking to create new or different requirements that are hard for the industry to meet,” Radovich said. “Rather, we are looking to harness the great work taking place to make the industry cleaner, safer and more resilient. Through the Guidelines, we will help create coherence and a roadmap to drive a path toward action, innovation, and systems change. The Circular Materials Guidelines help us have a common language so we can move together faster.”
Fashion Positive began as an initiative of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute and now, in its sixth year, has become an initiative of Textile Exchange, which acts as its fiscal sponsor and serves on its advisory council.