C&A Foundation commits more than £1m to circular fashion innovations

C&A Foundation, the corporate foundation affiliated with global fashion retailer C&A, will invest more than £1m (€1.29m) in a string of initiatives aimed at accelerating the industry's transition to a circular economy.

Five pilot schemes developed by the likes of WRAP, MADE-BY and Forum for the Future – which are together striving to help the fashion sector move away from ‘cradle-to-grave‘ models – will each receive a portion of the funding.

The five initiatives will join a learning network facilitated by C&A Foundation in an effort to transform an industry which currently loses more than $500bn in value every year due to clothing underutilisation and a lack of effective recycling systems, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.

“We believe the circular fashion revolution will only happen when we implement circular business models,” said the C&A Foundation’s head of circular transformation Douwe Jan Joustra.

“The critical, practise-based insights [the funded initiatives] develop and share will bring the industry a significant step towards these new models, moving the discourse on circular fashion from words to action.”

Winning projects

The first of the schemes to receive a portion of the funding is the London Waste Recycling Board’s (LWARB) Creative Circular Economy Business Models programme, which will provide one-to-one support to four London-based retailers looking to become more circular before helping three companies pilot new business models by 2020. At the end of LWARB’s scheme, the three companies will pledge to permanently offer circular products by the end of 2021.

The second initiative to target UK businesses is MADE-BY and Global Action Plan’s joint Love Every Fibre of Your Being campaign, which brings brand executives from British retailers and their female customers together to co-create circular business offerings, as well as sustainability communication strategies. The best ideas will be packaged into installations and shared with the public around a popular fashion event such as London Fashion Week.

The Europe-based Circular Activation Project, from the Circle Economy group, will additionally receive a share of the funding through C&A Foundation, as will Forum for the Future’s Circular Leap Asia programme.

The final scheme to take a share of the money is WRAP and the World Resources Institute’s (WRI) collaborative Market Makers project, which aims to demonstrate the market demand for clothing reuse models in more than 20 major apparel brands worldwide. It will do this by assessing consumer demand, piloting innovative business models, providing a common approach to impact assessment and identifying policies, regulations and incentives that increase clothing reutilisation in the UK, US and India.

Fighting fast fashion

This new funding is a result of a request for proposals put out by the C&A Foundation earlier in the year, which sought to identify and support projects that could help to “bridge the gap” in the implementation of circular business models in companies at all levels of the apparel value chain. 

It follows last October’s publication of a major report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and fashion designer Stella McCartney, which revealed that the equivalent of one rubbish lorry of textiles is wasted every second, with less than 1% of clothing being recycled into new clothes. The report predicted that the fashion industry could use up to a quarter of the world’s carbon budget by 2050 if brands do not jointly move towards a circular economy.  

Clothing retailer C&A – which developed the Foundation “to make fashion a force for good” – has been redesigning its business model to move away from cradle-to-grave methods, leading to the launch of Gold level Cradle-to-Cradle certified t-shirts last summer. The shirts, which are made with 100% organic materials and designed to be reused, recycled into new products or safely composted, were the first clothing item to receive the certification.

C&A has also shown an increased willingness to collaborate to drive the sector’s transition to a circular economy, having recently signed up to the Ellen MacCarthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular campaign and the Cotton 2040 initiative, which are aimed at turning circular garments and sustainable cotton respectively into mainstream commodities.

The Circular economy at edie’s Sustainable Supply Chains Conference 

Moving towards sustainable sourcing through a circular economy is one of the key topics being covered during edie’s Sustainable Supply Chains Conference next week.

Taking place on Wednesday 27th June at the 99 City Road Conference Centre in London, the Sustainable Supply Chains Conference will bring together sustainability, supply chain and procurement professionals to explore how companies can improve supplier engagement to drive sustainability. 

The event will include an interactive breakout session focused on ‘Moving towards a circular model’.

Find our more about the Conference and register to attend here

Sarah George

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