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Investing in recycling could make fashion 80% circular by 2030, says report

Camilla Rydzek
22 November 2021

The fashion industry could become 80% more circular by 2030 if it increases investment in existing recycling technologies and infrastructures, according to the Scaling Circularity report by the Global Fashion Agenda (GFA).

Report findings also showed how pre-competitive collaboration between global brands, manufacturers and policy makers can play a key role in transitioning to a circular economy. 

It added that to reach the 80% circularity milestone, the recycling sector requires at least $5-7 billion capital investment by 2026, which could in turn drive towards a $10- 20 billion annual profit pool by 2030.

The report was published together with GFA's knowledge partners McKinsey & Company and based its findings on the independent analysis and learnings of a case study based in Bangladesh, a cross-sectoral project called the Circular Fashion Partnership which aims to scale post-industrial recycling and capture textile value domestically.

The project has mapped and traced over 1000 tonnes of textile waste since it launched in October 2020 and is expected to increase capacity to 2000 tonnes a month by the end of 2021. This increase in capacity could demonstrate a $4.5 billion dollar opportunity for scaling this model to other markets including Vietnam, Turkey, India, Malaysia, according to the report.

Karl-Hendrik Magnus, Senior Partner at McKinsey & Company said: "Textile recycling must be rapidly scaled to help the fashion industry remain on a 1.5°C pathway. This report emphasises the often-overlooked opportunity for textile recycling in post-industrial waste. It highlights the power of industry stakeholders working together to accelerate change. The Circular Fashion Partnership is proof of the power of pre-competitive collaboration, and its model for impact should be replicated and scaled."

Federica Marchionni, CEO of the Global Fashion Agenda commented: "This research proves that the necessary recycling technologies exist, deliver huge improvements in environmental impact and that the economics work at scale.  The challenge is providing conditions for scaling. With sufficient investment, supportive policies, and by enabling pre-competitive collaborations, I am optimistic that we can create a profitable circular system and accelerate fashion’s journey to net zero."

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