28th November 2017

Circular Economy: Ellen and Stella set out a new future for fashion

Dame Ellen MacArthur and Stella McCartney called on the fashion industry to embrace the circular economy as they launched the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new report, A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future.

The report, created by the Circular Fibres Initiative, urges the fashion industry to adopt a new vision and create cross-industry collaborations to achieve it.

Clothes are an everyday necessity, and for many an important expression of individuality. Yet the industry’s current take-make-dispose model is the root cause of many environmental impacts and substantial economic value loss.

Every second, the equivalent of one rubbish lorry of textiles is landfilled or burned. An estimated £380billion of value is lost every year due to clothing that’s barely worn and rarely recycled. If nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget. As well as being wasteful, the industry is polluting: clothes release half a million tonnes of microfibres into the ocean every year, equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles. Microfibres are likely impossible to clean up and can enter food chains.

Dame Ellen said: “Today’s textile industry is built on an outdated linear, take-make-dispose model and is hugely wasteful and polluting. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s report presents an ambitious vision of a new system, based on circular economy principles, that offers benefits to the economy, society and the environment. We need the whole industry to rally behind it.”

In a new textiles economy clothes would be designed to last longer, be worn more and be easily rented or resold and recycled, and would not release toxins or pollution. Exploring new materials, pioneering business models, harnessing the power of design, and finding ways to scale better technologies and solutions are all needed to create a new textiles economy.

Industry leaders including core partners H&M, Lenzing, and NIKE Inc., and C&A Foundation as philanthropic funder, have endorsed the new report, to which they and over 40 influential fashion brands, leading businesses, NGOs, public bodies, and experts contributed. McKinsey & Company has also contributed research and analysis.

Read the full report: A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future.