Fashion Positive Launches Industry’s First Circular Materials Guidelines

Tracey Meyers
·4 mins read

Fashion Positive, a nonprofit initiative devoted to the use of circular materials in the fashion industry, said today that it released its inaugural “Circular Materials Guidelines,” which help align the apparel, footwear and textile industry on topics surrounding circular fibers and their potential to significantly impact the fashion industry through the development of the circular economy.

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 — in other words, designed for the circular economy,” the organization explained.

A circular economy is centered on refining and extending a product’s life cycle. “Products are designed to be effectively disassembled for reuse or to be remade, and ultimately recycled or, where relevant, composted, for a new life. Designing for the circular economy reduces the massive negative impact the fashion industry has on the planet and people,” they added.

And one of the greatest roadblocks to creating and sustaining a circular economy is that aforementioned “lack of alignment” — which is precisely what its newly launched guidelines are meant to improve.

Its Circular Materials Guidelines are a requisite textbook in the school of modern fashion, as its purpose is to enable innovators, manufacturers and brands to design “for the scale of safer, cleaner fibers that build a more resilient fashion industry,” the organization said.

Fashion Positive, which began as an initiative of the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, is now in its sixth year. And since its launch, Fashion Positive has become an initiative of Textile Exchange, which acts as its fiscal sponsor and serves on the Advisory Council.

And now Fashion Positive has set its sights on defining a “roadmap” through “better” and “best” material recommendations that incorporate recycled or reclaimed feedstock into fiber content, address chemical safety, cleaner water and renewable energy, the organization said. “The aim is to enable materials to be circulated for endless use rather than ending up incinerated or in a landfill to further pollute our planet.”

There’s no doubt that the industry is ready: Fashion Positive reports 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” that it hopes to diminish.

Megan Stoneburner, director of sustainability and sourcing at Outerknown, a sustainable apparel brand, said, “The fashion industry won’t survive anymore in a ‘make, take, waste’ approach. 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, explained that the guidelines are a “first step” 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. 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.”

And that collective coherence will hopefully lead to improvement. “The Circular Materials Guidelines will help the different sectors of the industry make decisions, set goals and continuously improve,” said La Rhea Pepper from Textile Exchange. The Guidelines are a critical tool to help the industry collaborate vertically and horizontally to create the massive systems change that will be required to go from a linear system to a circular one.”

On the fiber front, sustainable solution firms such as Tyton BioSciences, agree that the guidelines are a step forward in the “actualization” of circularity.

Peter Majeranowski, president and cofounder of Tyton BioSciences, said the guidelines “are critical for the industry to actualize circularity beyond commitments. As innovators, it is crucial that we have a circularity blueprint that has been developed collaboratively with key stakeholder brands. It presents us with clear targets and guidelines while providing confidence to the investor community that there is a tangible path forward”

Fashion Positive said it will host a webinar in coordination with Textile Exchange, a co-sponsor of the Circular Materials Guidelines, on Sept. 23. Titled “Getting to Action on Circularity,” the webinar will present the Circular Materials Guidelines and further explain the strategic direction of the initiative.

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