COMING TOGETHER TO DELIVER A BETTER FUTURE

Climate change, resource depletion and the destruction of the natural environment present existential crises requiring fundamental shifts inboth how the economy functions and how society acts.The Sixth Assessment Report of the IPCC sends a starkmessage – time is running out to prevent catastrophicclimate change with experts stating that society has fouryears to deliver urgent and radical action83. Within thiscontext, the fashion and textiles supply chain is the thirdmost detrimental globally, accounting for around 5% ofglobal greenhouse gas emissions, consuming 98 milliontonnes of non-renewable resources every year, and using 93 billion cubic metres of water annually.

Circularity has a key role to play in addressing thesechallenges. If acted upon globally and across sectors,the circular economy can deliver the reductions ingreenhouse gases needed to reach the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. For the fashion sector, reducing the flow of materials, improving clothing utilisation, and planning and investing in the solutions needed to scale closed-loop recycling, will collectively lead the transition.

In this report on Phase 1 of the Circular FashionEcosystem Project, we have presented our analysis of the current state of the ecosystem, the case for change and our vision for a new, circular target state for theUK fashion industry. This vision is centred around three target outcomes:

Target outcome 1:
Reduced volume of new physical clothing

Target outcome 2:
Maximised utilisation through product circularity

Target outcome 3:
Optimised sorting methods and materials recovery

Collectively, the 30 recommendations proposed in this report, across ten priority action areas, provide ablueprint for the future of the fashion industry. They drive change across the multiple dimensions of the system, clearly setting out the areas and initiatives where different stakeholders should take ownership of removing barriers and lead implementation of solutions.

For the fashion sector, this chance to transform the economy to a more regenerative model also presents an opportunity to address the systemic environmental and social challenges that exist in its global supply chains,while realising commercial opportunities in its consumer markets as the balance of products and services shifts. In pursuing partnerships for change, it will be vital to consider which groups, regions or environments might be negatively impacted by the transition. Including them on the journey and re-evaluating strategies as needed, to minimise potential unintended side effects,is fundamental to achieve a circular fashion ecosystem that brings improved societal and planetary wellbeing,resilience, and prosperity.

The way we behave and relate to clothes is shaped bythe social, cultural, and material structures around us.However, a shift in mindset is essential to bring about thechange required. Wide-scale collaboration by all partieswill be critical to success, requiring all stakeholders,including those viewed as competitors, to work togetheras never before and deliver against the vision.

The transition required is significant, but the ecosystem is ripe for change. With stakeholders aligned behind the need for transformation and the collective vision to achieve it, the UK fashion industry has a real opportunity to drive that transition and create a world-leading circular fashion ecosystem that retains its creativity and emotion, is fair and equitable and provides a radical blueprint for change for others to follow.

This report calls on all those engaged in UK fashion tocome together, embrace that vision, and create a circular fashion ecosystem for the UK

Learn more

Glossary

The definitions of key terms and concepts as they are used in this report are detailed below. These have been determined based on a range of sources.

Academia

Individuals and institutions involved in higher education and research, e.g. universities.

Artificial intelligence

The use of computer hardware and software to effectively replicate human intelligence and thinking capabilities digitally. The intention is to allow a machine to ‘think’ like a human being.

Augmented reality

The use of computer-generated artefacts to modify the visual experience of a real-world environment to enhance or change the user’s perception of reality.

Blockchain

A digital database technology that typically functions as a distributed ledger of transactions. A ‘block’ represents new information that has been input into the system and once this ‘block’ is complete, it becomes part of a ‘chain’ of other blocks, which are in chronological order. This blockchain can be decentralised, which effectively means it is stored across numerous nodes in a peer-to-peer network, and therefore, enables full transparency.

Brands

Producers of garments, who are responsible for the design and branding of products for the market.

Chemical recycling

A recycling process in which collected waste textile material is chemically treated using solvents or enzymes to produce new filaments, typically either cellulosic or synthetic fibres. Recovered synthetic fibres are converted to pellets suitable for being reused in the yarn manufacturing process. Recovered cellulosic fibres are dissolved into a pulp that can be used in the production of viscose-like materials.

Circular and sharing business models (CSBMs)

Business models, such as clothing rental or subscription schemes, that minimise the material used and waste produced while maximising the value of materials and products by keeping them in use for as long as possible, if not permanently. These models promote a focus on the triple bottom line – people, planet and profit.

Circular design

The concept of designing products and services in line with the principles of a circular economy. Using sustainable materials and designing out waste and pollution represent fundamental first steps. The overarching focus is to preserve the value of a safe to use product or service for as long as possible by designing for upgradeability/modularity, repair/refurbishment, and reuse. Recognising that end-of-life can be inevitable for some products, the focus shifts to maximising the sustainability of the end-of-life process by designing for redesign, disassembly, and recycling. Within this, circular clothing design refers to designs that use recycled and renewable materials (and/or post-production offcuts), and designs for emotional and physical durability, reuse, repair, redesign, modularity, disassembly, and recyclability.

Circular economy

An economic system that eschews traditional linearity and is built on the principles of designing out waste and pollution, keeping products and materials in use, and regenerating natural systems.

Circularity

The concept of goods, services and systems adhering to circular economy principles and therefore being suitable for consistent circulation within the economy.

Closed-loop recycling

A recycling system in which all the waste materials collected are converted into new materials that are of the same quality as the original input and can be reused in the same applications.

Clothing recommerce/ resale

The buying and selling of pre-owned clothing.

Clothing rental

A business model in which clothing products are temporarily provided for use in return for a set fee, typically determined by the length of use.

Clothing subscription

A business model in which clothing products or services are sold, and revenue is collected by the provider on a recurring basis.

Collectors

Businesses focused on collecting waste material throughout the supply chain and selling it on to reprocessors, often for a profit.

Consumers

Individuals who purchase goods and services for personal use.

Cradle-to-grave life cycle

Cradle-to-grave describes the full life cycle assessment from resource extraction (‘cradle’) to the use and disposal phase (‘grave’).

Designers

Individuals who produce designs for garments.

Digital prototyping

Businesses that provide digital services, including software and hardware. The production of virtual versions of new clothing designs.

Digital twin

A virtual replica of an item that exists in the physical world.

Digitalisation

The implementation of digital technologies and data into previously analog processes.

Digitisation Ecosystem

The conversion of data and information from analog formats to digital formats.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

A dynamic network of interconnected actors operating within a bounded geographical space.

Fibre-to-fibre recycling

A recycling process in which collected waste textile fibres are sorted and processed into textile fibres suitable to be reused in the supply chain.

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes make producers responsible for the disposal of post-consumer products and their environmental impact. In this way, it they are designed to incentivise producers to reduce waste through design and facilitate better waste management.

Government

The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Infrastructure

Both the ‘hard’ physical facilities and structures that underlie the operation of society and the ‘soft’ non-physical assets, including systems of government, education, and finance.

Institutions, industry bodies and third sector A wide array of organisations, including non-governmental organisations, consultancies, labour unions, community groups, charities, professional associations, and foundations.
Internet of things (IoT)

A concept in which any device is connected to the internet and therefore forms part of an enormous network of devices which continuously share data about their use and their environment

Investors

Individuals and institutions who invest capital with the expectation of maintaining value or achieving a profit. Such actors include banks, asset managers, institutional investors, and private equity.

Just and fair transition

A transition that looks to ensure that the unprecedented opportunities and benefits on offer are shared equitably across society so that all have access to a viable, prosperous, and secure future.

Linear economy

An economic system in which raw materials are extracted, transformed into goods and services, consumed, and ultimately disposed of as waste. This is currently the dominant system in the global economy99. This report uses the related terms linearity and linear to describe activities, processes and flows that are characteristic of a linear economy.

Logistics providers

Businesses that provide logistics services and management for clients to enable the flow of goods from their point of origin to their point of consumption and potentially, to their end-of-life destination.

Manufacturers

Businesses focused on producing fibres, fabrics, or garments at a set cost for retailers, brands, and designers.

Mechanical recycling

A recycling process in which machinery physically separates and deconstructs waste textile material, typically through a chopping and pulling process, into shredded fragments until a stage is reached at which fibres can be recovered individually.

Near infrared spectroscopy (NIR)

A spectroscopic technique in which a light source of known wavelength pattern is used to analyse a material to understand its organic composition101.

Non-rewearable

The state at which garments are no longer fit for being worn on the body by consumers and has therefore reached its end-of-life stage.

On-demand manufacturing and distribution

A manufacturing and distribution model that prioritises flexibility, as only the exact quantity of goods are produced at the point at which they are needed.

Open-loop recycling

A recycling system in which the waste materials collected are converted into both new materials and waste products. The new material is typically not of the same quality as the input and is therefore used for alternative applications.

Platform

A digital environment which enables software, products, or services to be provided and often facilitates the exchange of information and data.

Product circularity

The concept of a product adhering to circular economy principles and therefore being suitable for consistent circulation and reuse by consumers and/or businesses.

Product passport

A concept in which a dataset for a product would be maintained to track it throughout its entire lifecycle. The dataset would include information concerning components; constituent materials and their sources; disassembly procedures; and recycling procedures.

QR code

A matrix barcode that is a machine-readable optical label, typically storing information, such as a website URL.

Raw material circularity

Synthetic or natural raw material that is derived from the recycling of used textiles and other fashion related materials and either suited to replacing virgin inputs for new clothing manufacturing or suited to use in alternative applications and industries.

Recycled inputs

The process of collecting, sorting, and converting waste materials into new materials in order for them to be reused.

Recycling

Enabling the preservation or enhancement of the planet’s resources and environment.

Regenerative Regenerative recycling

A recycling process which restores fibres to their original raw material state, with no degradation in quality. This allows for the fibres to be continually reused in the same application, creating a closed loop of constant circulation.

Renewable inputs

Raw materials that are naturally replenished at a faster rate than they are consumed.

Reprocessors

Businesses focused on reprocessing, typically through recycling processes to convert waste material to reusable and re-merchandisable materials.

Retailers

Businesses focused on distributing and selling goods to consumers through brick and mortar stores or websites.

Reverse logistics

The process of moving goods from their typical final destination for the purpose of capturing value, or proper disposal.

RFID (radio frequency identification)

A wireless technology in which electromagnetic waves are used to communicate between a reader and a tag (which can be passive or active). An RFID tag can store anything from a serial number to an extensive dataset, which a reader can access.

Secondhand clothing

Clothing that has been previously owned/used.

Stakeholders

An individual, group, or party who has an interest in, or who is affected by, the operation and outcomes of the UK’s fashion ecosystem.

Sustainability

The state in which we are able to meet all of our needs within the ecological boundaries of the planet. These needs range from minimum standards for education, housing, social equality, income, and health to the basic provision of food, water, and energy. Meeting them within the ecological boundaries of the planet means that we must stop damaging and demanding too much of our planetary environment.

Sustainable development

As defined by the Brundtland Report (1987): “[...] development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.

Synthetic fibres

Fibres that are produced through chemical synthesis, as opposed to natural fibres (plant- based or animal-based) obtained from naturally occurring sources.

Utilisation

The number of times that a product is used by a consumer.

Vintage clothing

Clothing that is between 20 and 100 years old that recognisably follows the style of the era in which it was produced.

Virtual reality

A computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional space/environment that a user can interact with in such a way that it feels ‘real’.

Waste

Materials that have deteriorated in quality or been contaminated to the extent that they are no longer suitable for reuse and must be reprocessed within the UK’s waste infrastructure.

Zero-waste manufacturing

A manufacturing model that, in designing and assembling products, focuses on reducing and eliminating toxicity and waste throughout the process.

Learn more

A1. Methodology

As described in ‘Phase 1: Foundational research’, Phase 1 involved four main strands of research and analysis. The following sections describe the method and approach followed for each of these, in the order in which they were completed.

A1-1 Literature review

The first piece of research conducted as part of Phase 1 took the format of a desk-based literature review. This included review of academic and grey literature as well as analysis of secondary data sources from market research platforms such as Statista. The purpose of the review was threefold:.

  • Establish the current state of the UK fashion ecosystem, from a perspective of its size, position in the global fashion economy, environmental impact, and circular performance in terms of the consumption, use and disposal of clothing.
  • Compile a list of best practice case studies from across the world; and
  • Outline an initial vision for the future ‘target state’ of the UK fashion ecosystem.

We used the following definition of ‘clothing’ to guide the scope for this literature review, as based on the definition available used in the French EPR scheme (2007):

  • Socks, tights, stockings, leggings.
  • Panties, briefs, thongs, pants, undershirts, swimwear.
  • Bras, corsets, girdles, bustiers, panties, bodysuits, nighties, dressing gowns, jumpsuits, dress bottoms, garter belts, garters, camisoles, leotards, petticoats;
  • Pyjamas, nightgowns, dressing gowns, bathrobes; pants, bobbins, corsairs, knickers, overalls, jodhpurs, bermudas, shorts, sweatpants, jogging pants;
  • Skirts, culotte pants, dresses;
  • Shirts, blouses, t-shirts, sweatshirts, polo shirts, undershirts, sweaters, tank tops, sports shirts;
  • Pullovers, vests, cardigans, blouses, aprons, tunics, sweat tops, jogging tops jackets, blazers;
  • Duffle coats, trench coats, gabardines, pea coats, parkas, anoraks, down jackets;
  • Waterproof rainwear, waxes, capes, pelerines, overcoats, ponchos, overcoats;
  • Suits (2 and 3 pieces), tuxedos;
  • Ski suits, ski jackets and pants, kimonos;
  • Hats, berets, caps, toques;
  • Gloves, mittens; and
  • Ties, bow ties, belts, pocket squares, handkerchiefs, shawls, scarves, mufflers, mantillas.

As the first piece of research in this project, the findings of the literature review were used to shape the approach and focus of the stakeholder voice consultations, consumer research and financial modelling (see Appendix A1.2, A1.3 and A1.4 below).

Further to refining the vision for the target state via the stakeholder consultations (see Appendix A2.2), we conducted a second, complementary literature review focused on the topic of ensuring a just and fair transition. The findings of this complementary review are described in ‘Ensuring a just and fair transition’ on pages 92-93 of the report.

A1-2 Stakeholder voice consultations

As noted in ‘Stakeholder voice’ on page 34, Phase 1 of the CFE Project involved conversations and discussions with 26 representatives of various organisations and individuals involved in the UK fashion ecosystem. The four methods for these consultations are shown in ‘The stakeholder consultation process’ on page 34. This figure also depicts the stakeholder groups involved.

The approach followed for each of the four consultation forms were as follows:

  • Stakeholder interviews: To test the vision for the target state developed through the literature review, we conducted interviews with representatives of stakeholders from across the UK fashion ecosystem. In total, our research consortium interviewed 26 participants, either individually or in pairs. The interviews followed a semi-structured format that was tailored to the stakeholders and their specific areas of expertise. All interviews were conducted online through video calls and were recorded. Transcripts were subsequently produced for each interview and analysed to identify key themes, concerns, and takeaways for the report.
  • Designer focus group: To gain the perspectives of designers on the vision for the target state, we conducted a focus group. This focus group followed the same format as the interviews but with a larger number of participants present (five).
  • IPF Forum roundtable: As part of the IPF Forum on 10th of June, we held a roundtable discussion with a focus on discussing the newly refined vision for the target state and the ten priority action areas for realising it. Representatives from industry and government were invited to participate under Chatham House rules and received a briefing document in advance. This described the purpose and conditions of the discussion as well as the refined vision in the form of three target outcomes and ten priority action areas. Participants were further provided with follow-up summary output.
  • CFE Advisory Board: Throughout Phase 1 of the CFE Project, a series of meetings were held with the CFE Advisory Board. During these meetings, input was sought on emerging findings and overall project progress.

The interviews, designer focus group and roundtable were designed to yield greater understanding of the barriers and opportunities for transitioning to the target state and to explore the collaboration and partnerships needed to enable the transition. They informed the development of the vision for the future and the strategic framework for realising it in slightly different ways.

In both the interviews and designer focus group, the participants received a briefing document describing the purpose and conditions of the interview as well as the initial vision for the target state which had been developed through the literature review. The participants were asked to comment on their agreement with the vision and offer additional points for inclusion (if relevant). The original three ‘focus areas’ for the target state, as shown in ‘The evolution of vision through stakeholder views’ below, could then be adjusted to reflect the consistent messages coming through from these stakeholders. The vision also began to crystallise around recurring themes, which were consolidated to create the ten priority action areas.

The government and industry roundtable was held after the stakeholder interviews and focus group were completed. At this point, the original three focus areas had been refined into the three target outcomes and the ten action areas had been defined. Ahead of the roundtable, participants received an updated briefing document with a top-line description of this refined vision for the target state. Following a presentation

of this vision by the consortium and IPF team, the discussion and debate focussed around three questions:

  • What is the most effective way to achieve our vision and succeed in our target areas?
  • What are the barriers that will need to be overcome?
  • Where are the biggest opportunities for collaboration to effect change?

The output from the session took the form of written notes which were analysed for key themes and takeaways. The insights gained were subsequently used in the further refinement of the vision for the target state, including the generation of the 30 recommendations, as well as for related areas of the final report, such as the section ‘Ensuring a just and fair transition’.

A1-3 Consumer research surveys

Prior to primary data collection, we conducted a desk- based analysis of existing relevant consumer research to identify potential themes for the consumer market research. This analysis identified a lack of research on the habits of ‘high intensity’ clothing shoppers, so this group was identified as the target respondents for our consumer research. An initial omnibus survey was therefore carried out on 14-15th June 2021 in the UK to identify the socio-demographic profile of a typical high intensity shopper. This survey was conducted online with a sample of 2,080 adults (18+) representative of the UK geographical and socio-demographic mix (i.e., age, gender, region, social class, and ethnicity).

From this initial survey, we identified a profile and definition for high intensity shoppers in the UK: individuals who shop for clothes, shoes and/or accessories (in-store or online) at least once a month and who purchase two or more items per month. This group is typically younger and has a higher proportion of females than the UK national average population.

Using the findings from our initial desk-based research, a quantitative consumer insights survey was designed for high intensity shoppers to understand existing behaviours, how these related to the target state and the receptiveness of this group to potential new models of clothing purchase, consumption and disposal. The survey was conducted on 2nd-5th July 2021 in the UK with a non-representative sample of 1020 adults (18+). All respondents were pre-screened to ensure that they met the definition of a high intensity shopper.

In addition to assessing current behaviours and receptivity, the survey aimed to identify whether there were core characteristics of the high intensity shopping audience that ran particularly in opposition to circular behaviours, or that suggested a greater predisposition to take part in circular activities.

A1-4 Financial modelling A1-4-1

What it covers

Based on the premise that in future, customers will embrace circular fashion options and purchase fewer new physical garments, what might this mean financially for retailers, service providers and for customers? Our model sought to estimate the potential financial value that customers and other stakeholders may be able to recover from used garments in the future circular fashion ecosystem.

A1-4-2 How it works

The model assumed a mix of garment and service purchases by a typical clothing customer, to calculate a yearly average spend on fashion. Some items will last longer than a year, so we adjusted the spend estimates based on the average item lifespan.

Every year, garments will leave the customer’s wardrobe for reuse, recycling and possibly to waste disposal destinations. Each has a value: positive for reuse and recycling, negative for disposal and destruction.

The model resulted in a range of values: the yearly customer spend, their annualised spend (i.e. their yearly spend adjusted to account for average item lifespan), and the downstream value recovered. These values were calculated for three scenarios based on business-as- usual and two potential future states, with each scenario assuming a different customer spend pattern for garment purchases (see model assumptions and outputs below for further details on the scenarios modelled and the types of fashion consumers these were applied to). The figure ‘Financial modelling inputs and outputs’ to the left summarises key model inputs and outputs and provides an example calculation for customer and downstream stakeholder recovery values.

A1-4-3 What is the basis for the data in the model?

Where our research identified consumption patterns and price points, these were used to sense check our model assumptions. For example, in the base user case, WRAP’s research on clothing discard and disposal behaviours (WRAP, 2020) during lockdown was used to determine a disposal split and guide the output mix. Similarly, assumptions on price points were sense checked based on the professional judgment of industry representatives.

A 1-4-4 What do the outputs mean?

The model can be used to compare scenarios and to answer relevant questions about future markets. For example:

  • Does the future circular system necessarily mean less revenue for sellers of goods and services?
  • Does it necessarily cost more for customers?
  • Do potential revenue streams exist for recyclers and reuse companies and organisations?

A1-4-5 Assumptions in the modelling

Clothing types

Looking at two types of fashion consumers (an ‘average’ shopper and a ‘high intensity’ shopper), we modelled the transition of a customer moving from typical existing purchase behaviour to future circular behaviours. The types of products modelled are:

  • Virtual

    Garments that only exist online and are used for social media, avatars, and gaming characters. An example is https://www.thefabricant.com.

  • Pre-owned

    Garments that were previously owned by another person: including those passed on by friends, purchased through online trading systems and those purchased in retail outlets such as vintage and charity stores. Buying a pre-owned garment is assumed to replace the need for a new one (this is not always the case but is an adequate assumption for the purposes of this indicative model).

  • New - standard quality

    New garments commonly available and with typical durability characteristics. It is an oversimplification to presume that high-street branded goods are all ‘standard’ durability as some are ultra-durable.

  • New - high quality

    Higher-quality, more durable garments.

  • New - highest quality

    The most durable garments. These are presumed here to be more expensive simply because they are designed and specified to have strong durability characteristics.

  • Repair

    Return of an existing garment to wearable condition through repair (either done by the owner or a professional repairer, including alteration). Repairing a garment is assumed to replace the need for buying a new one.

  • Temporary access

    Garments available on a temporary basis either through hire, rental or a capsule subscription system. Returned for others to use after a set time.

Scenarios
The table above summarises the assumed splits of customer garment purchase behaviour under each scenario.

Uplift factors
We assume there are increases in the value of used garments and recycled materials for the interim and target state scenarios. These assumptions are estimates intended to signify the potential for value increase in those markets as the circular fashion economy evolves.

A1-4-6 Outputs

Average shoppers
‘Average’ shoppers are defined in the model as those shoppers who typically buy two fashion items per month. The model outputs for these shoppers are summarised in the table below.
All cases assume that the customers still have access to 24 garments each year (an average of two items each month), but that the mix switches more towards pre- owned, repaired, hired and virtual garments and away from new garments as we transition to the more circular interim and target state scenarios.

These calculations show us how a circular fashion economy could influence finances across the system. There is only moderate change in the annual spend of customers, but there are significant differences in how much of that value is passed on and recovered by downstream industries including repairers, subscription/ services providers, and recyclers. Given that these industries are likely to be closer to the end market in the UK, the opportunity for capturing more fashion value in the UK is significant. The net value to customers and downstream operators is highest in the most circular target state scenario.

High intensity shoppers

In our targeted consumer survey, we found that our high intensity shoppers group purchased, on average, three times more clothing and invested over three times more money on clothing than the national average. They are more inclined to buy pre-owned clothing (55% have purchased used clothing in the last six months vs. a national average of 31%) and over a third of them admit to ordering and wearing clothes before then returning them to retailers for a full refund (effectively using fashion retail businesses as free fashion libraries).

Because this group is already exhibiting many strong circular behaviours, we also modelled the three scenarios outlined above for these high intensity shoppers. We based this on the average number of monthly purchases reported amongst the respondents to our targeted quantitative consumer survey (six fashion items per month).

There is an increase in the total spend made by customers, predominantly due to assumptions about subscription service cost and uptake, but this is accompanied by a significant benefit in recovered value (through selling garments on for reuse or through trading them in). There is also substantial downstream value generated in reuse, repair, service, and recycling markets, much of which could be available to the UK through local service provision.

A1-4-7 Model assumptions and interpretation
As with all scenario-based modelling, the scenarios in this analysis are necessarily reliant on assumptions for certain inputs. Where we were able to collect necessary model inputs from desk-based research and our original consumer research, we have done so. However, some data points and projections in the model are based on estimates and professional judgement. None of the details within the scenarios can be predicted with precise accuracy, nor can the future uptake rates or price points for reuse, repair, subscription, and virtual services be guaranteed. In addition to those noted previously, key modelling assumptions include:

  • The model assumes a range of durability types are available for new garments and that higher durability garments cost more without making assumptions about brand mix, categories or composition of the clothing purchased.
  • Given challenges in predicting how customers will behave when the durability of their purchases improves, the model assumes that their wardrobes operate on a “one in, one out” basis - i.e., that they never reduce the quantity of clothing they have available.
  • There is no clear data available on how the value of non-reusable clothing might increase once large-scale fibre-to-fibre recycling processes are established. The model has assumed an uplift in value.

Outputs should therefore be considered to provide a high-level indication of potential impacts rather than a precise or comprehensive prediction of future states.

Less

A2. The 30 stakeholder recommendations

A2-1 Recommendations by Lead stakeholder and priority topic

The tables below set out the 30 stakeholder recommendations developed as part of this project. The first table lists recommendations in order of their appearance in the stakeholder actions and connections diagram while the second groups them by stakeholder type.

  • Brands/Circular design

    Mainstreaming Circular design: Brands to integrate circular design into core business strategy (including across all product lines) and work with academics, or other specialists, to deliver ongoing training on its principles to designers and key business functions, in line with the development of new technologies and end markets. This is in addition to continuing education and training on circular design for fashion students and independent designers.

  • Brands/Demand for recycled and renewable fibres

    Matching designs and reprocessing: Brands to lead a multistakeholder industry initiative to map out the improvements needed to

    1. ensure that clothing designs are suitable for reprocessing;
    2. ensure that recycled inputs meet the needs of design and creation, e.g. on choice, speed, and price; and
    3. help companies identify, capture, and resell excess materials and products.
  • Reprocessors/Circular design

    Designing for reprocessing: Reprocessors to orchestrate formal discussions with brands, designers and manufacturers on working together to achieve design suitable for disassembly and reprocessing. This should include the establishment of clear guidelines outlining what makes products recyclable without compromising on durability.

  • Brands/Circular design

    Adopting digital prototyping: Brands to adopt digital prototyping to enable the visualisation of a complete product before it is physically built. This will facilitate the ‘designing out’ of waste. Academia must also work with brands to ensure that fashion students are being trained in the use of 3D digital prototyping software.

  • Logistics providers /Enhanced identification and tracking

    Developing a digital tracking system: Logistics providers to lead a multi-stakeholder initiative with brands, retailers, manufacturers and digital innovators aimed at developing a standardised industry framework for accessing item-specific information on provenance; materials; composition; social and environmental impact; and certifications. The initiative should include trials for introducing digital technologies (e.g. blockchain-supported intelligent labels, RFID or QR tags) at the earliest stages of the value chain to enable end-to-end traceability and transparency throughout an item’s lifecycle.

    The framework should be designed to aid the development of take-back schemes and the consequent increase in capacity of reverse logistics. It should also consider opportunities for incorporating Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystems, digital twins, and platforms for provision of services.

  • Digital innovators/Consumer empowerment

    Digitising garments: Digital innovators to work with brands, retailers, and academia to continue researching and implementing technologies such as augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) to expand their use within the industry. These technologies allow consumers to ‘wear’ or try out products virtually through innovations such as biometrically- specific avatars and ‘digital skins’. This research should also include the ethical/privacy implications of such technologies and their role in the reselling of products.

  • Manufacturers/Ecosystem Modelling

    Supporting manufacturing in the UK: Manufacturers to convene a multi-stakeholder initiative, including brands and government, to support and develop garment manufacturing in the UK. This initiative should focus on facilitating the fundamental conditions for:

    1.   fair and decent work for all workers; and
    2.   the utilisation of recycled inputs for UK manufacturing.

    This should include research into the drivers of the success of certain UK retailers in expanding domestic manufacturing. The research should also aim to understand the capabilities, technology, capacity, and skills that the UK needs to develop within its infrastructure and workforce.

  • Brands/Circular and sharing business models

    Manufacturing and distributing clothing on demand: Brands to work with manufacturers, logistics providers and digital innovators to develop and adopt technology that facilitates on-demand manufacturing and distribution. This means that only the exact quantity of goods needed is produced. Technologies that can be adopted to facilitate this include predictive analytics, which could be used to predict trends and consumer demand. Brands and logistics providers could also trial inventory models that enable shipping of small batches of new products and designs before quickly ramping up production if they prove popular.

  • Manufacturers/Demand for recycled and renewable fibres

    Utilising supply chain textile waste materials: Manufacturers and reprocessors to convene a multi-stakeholder initiative, including brands and designers, to explore options for repurposing off-cuts and, more broadly, developing a centralised and accessible B2B market platform for trade in supply chain textiles and recycled materials. This platform should be made available to collectors, resellers, retailers, and brands.

  • Institutions, industry bodies and third sector /Consumer empowerment

    Educating for circularity: Institutions, industry bodies and third sector to work with government to educate citizens on sustainability, regeneration, and circular economy principles in order to empower consumers to make informed choices. This work is key to raise the profile of environmental issues amongst consumers and deliver the mindset change needed. Developing educational resources and workshops that are suitable for all ages and levels of expertise is central to this.

  • Brands/Demand for recycled and renewable fibres

    Changing perceptions of recycled content: Brands to collaborate with retailers to engage in consumer communications on the benefits and use of recycled content. This is important for high-end brands, where such materials may be seen as inferior and hence, problematic in terms of branding. Simultaneously, brands should work internally to change their perceptions of recycled content by engaging in educational activities. This includes working with academia to continue education and training on the benefits of recycled content for fashion students and independent designers.

  • Brands/Consumer empowerment

    Shifting consumer practices: Shifting consumer practices: Brands to lead a multi- stakeholder initiative on how brands, retailers and logistics providers can encourage consumer practices that maximise the use and enjoyment of clothes. The initiative should include:

    1. discussions on extending consumer use of clothing;
    2. encouraging consumers to see clothes as an investment;
    3. helping consumers to use a larger proportion of the existing items in their wardrobes;
    4. helping consumers to pass on their clothes through reuse and recycling channels; and
    5. working with logistics providers to improve the convenience of reverse logistics for consumers.
  • Institutions, industry bodies and third sector/Consumer empowerment

    Formalising skills: Institutions, industry bodies and third sector to convene a multi-stakeholder government-funded initiative which aims to formalise the skills of high street seamsters, dry cleaners, and repairers, among others, e.g. through the creation of educational courses within BTECs and NVQs. This should form part of a concerted effort to grow the economy for clothing repair and maintenance. As part of this, the government should be responsible for quality assurance, accreditation and the reintroduction of teaching on repair and maintenance in secondary and tertiary education.

  • Brands/Circular and sharing business models

    Expanding brand repair and care services: Brands to seek partnerships throughout the product lifecycle that help accelerate a transition to a circular or sharing business model. One such partnership could be with reverse logistics and repair providers to offer discounted repair services for own brand products at cost price. This would also ensure that repair data is fed back into design decisions to enable continuous product improvement. Working to provide such affordable and easy-to-access repair services will offer greater convenience to the consumer. Combined with the promise of repair in case of breakage, and the improved durability that would ultimately emerge from such schemes, this could incentivise consumers to shop with such companies.

  • Brands/Circular and sharing business models

    Expanding rental and subscription: Brands to develop wide scale, convenient and cost-effective options for short-term clothing provision for consumers that seek or require a higher turnover of fashion or for cases where the consumer only requires an item for a few occasions. Consumers are already using rental/hire services. If their desire for engaging with the latest trends and designs can be met through rental, then the flow of lower quality new items can be reduced. Such rental and subscription models should be developed to ensure low- carbon logistics, packaging, and dry cleaning.

  • Brands/Circular and sharing business models

    Expanding product take-back and service provision: Brands and retailers to adopt and scale circular economy innovations, such as take-back schemes that integrate sortation, recommerce, repair, and redesign. This has the potential to increase revenues whilst minimising the requirement for new products and materials. Such schemes could involve the provision of services aimed at the current user, such as appropriate garment care, repair and revitalisation, and styling and use options. Rather than reselling all collected clothing via charity outlets, items can undergo screening, repair, and resale via the appropriate outlets or can be collated for supply to reprocessors when they have reached their genuine end of life. Logistics providers can also play a key role in providing the enhanced reverse logistics needed to enable a take-back model, including transport and storage space for collected items.

  • Brands/Circular and sharing business models

    Boosting recommerce: Brands and retailers to actively engage in the development, marketing, and mainstreaming of recommerce for their products through existing channels and platforms and/or trial and launch their own resale platforms. A significant barrier to consumers purchasing more used clothing is lack of availability of venues or sites that sell used clothing. The provision of clear advice on the potential resale value of items could also be a promising intervention for encouraging consumers to resell clothing themselves.

  • Collectors/Post-use ecosystem

    Developing systems for optimised recirculation: Collectors to work with recommerce platform providers, brands and digital innovators to develop technological systems that ensure that used clothes are rerouted through integrated channels that maximise the life and utilisation of individual items. Through brands and platform providers collaborating, this could involve integration of information and photography from original product listings, providing the potential next user a view of the provenance and journey of individual garments. Expanding solutions for enhanced identification and tracking could facilitate this.

  • Government/Post-use ecosystem

    Standardising local authority collection systems: Government to work with institutions, industry bodies and third sector to implement and improve kerbside textiles collection, sorting, and recycling. The priority here should be to achieve a reliable and standardised system across regions, considering both local government and private (tendered) waste treatment facilities. Such consistency will enable multiple benefits, including a single campaign of consistent messaging to all UK citizens. Additionally, successful business case development for further private sector infrastructure investment, using funds raised through the implementation of Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR).

  • Government/Innovation investment

    Investing in advanced sorting: Government to convene multi-stakeholder initiatives, with brands and reprocessors, to coordinate investment into new sorting technologies, such as near-infrared (NIR), and large-scale facilities for their use. Sorting technologies must be able to sort according to fibre composition and colour. They must also ensure that used clothing is appropriately pre-processed through cleaning, removal of hardware, and product disassembly.

  • Institutions, industry bodies and third sector/Sortation and Recycling

    Investing in upskilling for sortation and recycling: Institutions, industry bodies and third sector to work with government on investing in, promoting and implementing the upskilling of workers to meet the emerging demand for sortation and recycling. As new sorting and recycling technologies are developed, there will be a need for technicians, technology developers, engineers and manual sorters, who will remain crucial for finer sorting even as automation increases. These changes will also require greater logistics expertise across the sector.

  • Government/Innovation investment

    Financing emerging technologies: Government to provide direct financial support for businesses developing technologies that enable closed-loop and regenerative recycling and related infrastructure. This will position the UK as a global leader in these technologies and ensure that uncertainty in policy direction does not restrict opportunities for private investment.

  • Government/Sortation and Recycling

    Scaling recycling: Government to carry out a feasibility assessment and conduct a consultation for the phased scaling of open-loop, closed-loop and regenerative recycling within the UK. This should include:

    1. developing a roadmap informed by industry, academic and civil society research into the system-wide environmental impacts of scaling chemical recycling; and
    2. exploring options for technical solutions that enable high value fibre-to-fibre recycling.

    Scaling activities should take into consideration interlinkages with the transition to renewable energy within the UK.

  • Government/Policy and regulation

    Introducing an EPR scheme: Government to implement an industry-led approach to Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) legislation, that clearly incentivises brands, designers and retailers to go beyond the minimum standards for circular design and adopt circular business models. This EPR scheme should ensure that a guaranteed percentage of funds raised is invested into recycling infrastructure and repair services, thereby increasing the industry’s investment potential and the potential profit margin achieved from recycled products.

  • Government/Policy and regulation

    Developing feedstock and label standards: Government to develop:

    1. feedstock standards for the textiles recycling industry; and
    2. label standards for ensuring accurate and standardised information for textile reprocessors, manufacturers, and consumers.

    Such standards should be included as part of an Extended Producer Responsibility scheme. As part of this standards development, definitions and processes for textile and non- textile recycling inputs should be standardised and clearer definitions of waste should be developed. Appropriate clothing design and the development of intelligent labels and product passports will be critical to ensuring optimised sorting downstream, requiring designers, logistics providers and digital innovators to be included in the development of standards and supporting technologies.

  • Institutions, industry bodies and third sector/Ecosystem Modelling

    Modelling economic and material flows: Institutions, industry bodies and third sector to lead a government- commissioned project dedicated to modelling the detailed economic and material flows of a future circular ecosystem for UK fashion. This would entail robust quantification of materials flows, for instance through Material Flows Analysis (MFA). The modelling should also assess the subsequent economic implications of these flows, including economic impacts on businesses in the post-use ecosystem.

  • Government/Sortation and Recycling

    Modelling industry and innovation hubs: Government to undertake a feasibility study, including economic and material flows modelling, for the development of centralised textiles circularity hubs that involve:

    1. co-location of R&D facilities;
    2. advanced and large-scale sorting facilities;
    3. warehouses and outlets for recommerce and licenced upcycling;
    4. plants for reprocessing; and
    5. channels for the raw materials to feed into end markets, including UK textiles and garment manufacturing.
  • Institutions, industry bodies and third sector/Policy and regulation

    Mainstreaming metrics for societal prosperity: Institutions, industry bodies and third sector to convene a multi- stakeholder initiative to mainstream within the UK fashion ecosystem:

    1. alternative metrics for measuring business success; and
    2. alternative metrics for evaluating societal prosperity.

    This should include industry-wide training to ensure finance departments understand and appreciate metrics that go beyond the traditional financial models.

  • Investors/Innovation investment

    Directing investment towards circular performance: Investors to work with government and industry bodies to push businesses in the fashion industry to demonstrate clear strategies and action plans for transitioning to circular business models. As a part of this, investors should continue to embed circular economy principles in disclosure standards that go beyond traditional Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards.

  • Government/Innovation investment

    Providing grants and incubation: Government to support innovation and R&D by providing grants and technical support to start-ups and innovators who adopt circular business models. Such support should have the explicit aim to create world leading UK-based intellectual property and to help smaller companies compete with big brands.

Learn more

A2.2 Recommendations in order of stakeholder

Stakeholder As Lead As Enabler
Academia N/A
  • 1. Mainstreaming circular design
  • 4. Adopting digital prototyping
  • 6. Digitising garments
  • 10. Educating for circularity
  • 11. Changing perceptions of recycled content
  • 13. Formalising skills
  • 23. Scaling recycling
  • 27. Modelling industry and innovation hubs
  • 28. Mainstreaming metrics for societal prosperity
Brands
  • 1. Mainstreaming circular design
  • 2. Matching designs and reprocessing
  • 4. Adopting digital prototyping
  • 8. Manufacturing and distributing clothes on demand
  • 11. Changing perceptions of recycled content
  • 12. Shifting consumer practices
  • 14. Expanding brand repair and care services
  • 15. Expanding rental and subscription
  • 16. Expanding product take-back and service provision
  • 17. Boosting recommerce
  • 3. Designing for reprocessing
  • 5. Developing a digital tracking system
  • 6. Digitising garments
  • 7. Supporting manufacturing in the UK
  • 9. Utilising supply chain textile waste materials
  • 10. Educating for circularity
  • 13. Formalising skills
  • 18. Developing systems for optimised recirculation
  • 23. Scaling recycling
  • 24. Introducing an EPR scheme
  • 25. Developing feedstock and label standards
  • 26. Modelling ecosystem flows and economics
  • 27. Modelling industry and innovation hubs
  • 28. Mainstreaming metrics for societal prosperity
  • 29. Directing investment towards circular performance
Collectors
  • 18. Developing systems for optimised recirculation
  • 9. Utilising supply chain textile waste materials
  • 16. Expanding product take-back and service provision
  • 17. Boosting recommerce
  • 18. Developing systems for optimised recirculation
  • 19. Standardising local authority collection systems
  • 24. Introducing an EPR scheme
  • 26. Modelling ecosystem flows and economics
  • 27. Modelling industry and innovation hubs
Designers N/A
  • 1. Mainstreaming circular design
  • 2. Matching designs and reprocessing
  • 3. Designing for reprocessing
  • 4. Adopting digital prototyping
  • 5. Developing a digital tracking system
  • 6. Digitising garments
  • 9. Utilising supply chain textile waste materials
  • 11. Changing perceptions of recycled content
  • 26. Modelling ecosystem flows and economics
Digital innovators
  • 6. Digitising garments
  • 5. Developing a digital tracking system
  • 8. Manufacturing and distributing clothes on demand
  • 12. Shifting consumer practices
  • 14. Expanding brand repair and care services
  • 15. Expanding rental and subscription
  • 16. Expanding product take-back and service provision
  • 18. Developing systems for optimised recirculation
Government
  • 19. Standardising local authority collection systems
  • 20. Investing in advanced sorting
  • 22. Financing emerging technologies
  • 23. Scaling recycling
  • 24. Introducing an EPR scheme
  • 25. Developing feedstock and label standards
  • 27. Modelling industry and innovation hubs
  • 30. Providing grants and incubation
  • 1. Mainstreaming circular design
  • 7. Supporting manufacturing in the UK
  • 10. Educating for circularity
  • 11. Changing perceptions of recycled content
  • 12. Shifting consumer practices
  • 13. Formalising skills
  • 17. Boosting recommerce
  • 21. Investing in upskilling for sortation and recycling
  • 26. Modelling ecosystem flows and economics
  • 28. Mainstreaming metrics for societal prosperity
  • 29. Directing investment towards circular performance
Institutions, industry bodies, and third sector
  • 10. Educating for circularity
  • 13. Formalising skills
  • 21. Investing in upskilling for sortation and recycling
  • 26. Modelling ecosystem flows and economics
  • 28. Mainstreaming metrics for societal prosperity
  • 7. Supporting manufacturing in the UK
  • 11. Changing perceptions of recycled content
  • 19. Standardising local authority collection systems
  • 20. Investing in advanced sorting
  • 23. Scaling recycling
  • 25. Developing feedstock and label standards
  • 27. Modelling industry and innovation hubs
  • 29. Directing investment towards circular performance
  • 30. Providing grants and incubation
Investors
  • 29. Directing investment towards circular performance
  • 8. Manufacturing and distributing clothes on demand
  • 13. Formalising skills
  • 18. Developing systems for optimised recirculation
  • 19. Standardising local authority collection systems
  • 20. Investing in advanced sorting
  • 22. Financing emerging technologies
  • 28. Mainstreaming metrics for societal prosperity
  • 30. Providing grants and incubation
Logistics providers
  • 5. Developing a digital tracking system
  • 8. Manufacturing and distributing clothes on demand
  • 9. Utilising supply chain textile waste materials
  • 12. Shifting consumer practices
  • 14. Expanding brand repair and care services
  • 15. Expanding rental and subscription
  • 16. Expanding product take-back and service provision
  • 17. Boosting recommerce
  • 18. Developing systems for optimised recirculation
  • 19. Standardising local authority collection systems
Manufacturers
  • 7. Supporting manufacturing in the UK
  • 9. Utilising supply chain textile waste materials
  • 1. Mainstreaming circular design
  • 2. Matching designs and reprocessing
  • 3. Designing for reprocessing
  • 4. Adopting digital prototyping
  • 5. Developing a digital tracking system
  • 6. Digitising garments
  • 8. Manufacturing and distributing clothes on demand
  • 24. Introducing an EPR scheme
  • 25. Developing feedstock and label standards
  • 27. Modelling industry and innovation hubs
  • 29. Directing investment towards circular performance
Reprocessors
  • 3. Designing for reprocessing
  • 2. Matching designs and reprocessing
  • 5. Developing a digital tracking system
  • 9. Utilising supply chain textile waste materials
  • 20. Investing in advanced sorting
  • 23. Scaling recycling
  • 24. Introducing an EPR scheme
  • 25. Developing feedstock and label standards
  • 26. Modelling ecosystem flows and economics
  • 27. Modelling industry and innovation hubs
Retailers N/A
  • 1. Mainstreaming circular design
  • 2. Matching designs and reprocessing
  • 5. Developing a digital tracking system
  • 6. Digitising garments
  • 8. Manufacturing and distributing clothes on demand
  • 14. Expanding brand repair and care services
  • 15. Expanding rental and subscription
  • 16. Expanding product take-back and service provision
  • 17. Boosting recommerce
  • 18. Developing systems for optimised recirculation
  • 24. Introducing an EPR scheme
  • 25. Developing feedstock and label standards
  • 26. Modelling ecosystem flows and economics
  • 28. Mainstreaming metrics for societal prosperity
  • 29. Directing investment towards circular performance

Learn more