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.
Individuals and institutions involved in higher education and research, e.g. universities.
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.
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.
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.
Producers of garments, who are responsible for the design and branding of products for the market.
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.
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.
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.
The concept of goods, services and systems adhering to circular economy principles and therefore being suitable for consistent circulation within the economy.
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.
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.
A business model in which clothing products or services are sold, and revenue is collected by the provider on a recurring basis.
Businesses focused on collecting waste material throughout the supply chain and selling it on to reprocessors, often for a profit.
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’).
Individuals who produce designs for garments.
Businesses that provide digital services, including software and hardware. The production of virtual versions of new clothing designs.
A virtual replica of an item that exists in the physical world.
The implementation of digital technologies and data into previously analog processes.
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.
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.
The Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
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
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.
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.
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.
Businesses focused on producing fibres, fabrics, or garments at a set cost for retailers, brands, and designers.
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.
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.
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.
A digital environment which enables software, products, or services to be provided and often facilitates the exchange of information and data.
The concept of a product adhering to circular economy principles and therefore being suitable for consistent circulation and reuse by consumers and/or businesses.
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.
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.
The process of collecting, sorting, and converting waste materials into new materials in order for them to be reused.
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.
Raw materials that are naturally replenished at a faster rate than they are consumed.
Businesses focused on reprocessing, typically through recycling processes to convert waste material to reusable and re-merchandisable materials.
Businesses focused on distributing and selling goods to consumers through brick and mortar stores or websites.
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.
Clothing that has been previously owned/used.
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.
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.
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”.
Fibres that are produced through chemical synthesis, as opposed to natural fibres (plant- based or animal-based) obtained from naturally occurring sources.
The number of times that a product is used by a consumer.
Clothing that is between 20 and 100 years old that recognisably follows the style of the era in which it was produced.
A computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional space/environment that a user can interact with in such a way that it feels ‘real’.
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.
A manufacturing model that, in designing and assembling products, focuses on reducing and eliminating toxicity and waste throughout the process.