Global fashion brands have met just 21% of ambitious circularity targets that they have committed to achieve by 2020.
Global Fashion Agenda (GFA), the world’s foremost leadership forum for sustainability in fashion, released its Year Two Status Report, an annual assessment of the progress that brands and retailers have made in reaching the targets of the 2020 Circular Fashion System Commitment (2020 Commitment).
Launched in 2017, the 2020 Commitment urges brands and retailers to take action on circularity to accelerate the industry’s transition to a circular fashion system.
It is signed by 90 fashion companies, representing 12.5% of the global fashion market.
The Year Two Status Report shows that signatories have reached 45 (21%) of the 213 targets set, highlighting the ambitious nature of many of the targets.
This report provides a rich evidence base for policymakers, bringing forward key learnings on concrete circular fashion actions.
Although significant progress has been made, some targets take longer to implement, GFA says.
It says brands must “urgently accelerate their efforts” and seek further collaboration if they are to achieve their remaining targets by June 2020.
Signatories set targets across four action points.
- Action point 1: Implementing design strategies for cyclability: 87 targets set, 24 reached
- Action point 2: Increasing the volume of used garments and/or footwear collected: 52 targets set, 12 reached
- Action point 3: Increasing the volume of used garments and/or footwear resold: 27 targets set, 4 reached
- Action point 4: Increasing the share of garments and/or footwear made from recycled post-consumer textile fibres: 47 targets set, 5 reached
Progress was most prominent within the “Implementing design strategies for cyclability” action point, which notes the importance of creative departments and designers in influencing the environmental impact of a product and ultimately how sustainable it is.
For example, signatories such as ASOS, Nike and Target set their focus on training employees in various departments in circular design and on integrating circularity in design briefs.
Roadblocks to progress
As of July 2019, 79% of the initial targets are still outstanding. The Year Two Status Report indicates that the majority of signatories find addressing action point 4, “Increasing the share of garments and/or footwear made from recycled post-consumer textile fibres”, the most challenging.
To achieve the remaining targets, signatories emphasise the need for industry-wide standards, best practices, legislation and supportive regulatory frameworks.
Eva Kruse, CEO & President, Global Fashion Agenda, says: “It’s promising to see that the 2020 Commitment has triggered many brands to take action on circularity.
“However, we need to move faster; if we don’t work together to establish a strong ecosystem of collaboration, we will not achieve all of the 2020 Commitment targets and the impact of the fashion industry on the planet will continue to grow.”
The Year Two Status Report includes brand case studies by ASOS, Eksempel, Filippa K, Guess, H&M, Loomstate, MUD Jeans and Nudie Jeans, as well as statements by representatives of BESTSELLER, Dhana Inc., GANNI, KappAhl, Mara Hoffman, Nike, Norrøna Sport, Suitsupply and VF EMEA.
The road ahead
Despite the encouraging progress, the fashion industry is still far from being sustainable and circular, as highlighted by the Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2019 update.
Governments and policymakers must play a strong role in creating a supportive regulatory framework, GFA says.
Jonas Eder-Hansen, Public Affairs Director, Global Fashion Agenda, says: “Policymakers are increasingly looking towards the fashion and textile industries for good examples and innovative approaches to transitioning to a circular economy.
“This report provides a rich evidence base for policymakers, bringing forward key learnings on concrete circular fashion actions. It can hopefully serve as inspiration for smart policy initiatives that can help support industry progress.”
In the third and final year of the 2020 Commitment, Global Fashion Agenda will continue to support signatories in reaching their targets, with a particular focus on addressing key challenges.
Read the full Status Report
Key facts on circularity:
- 73% of the world’s clothing eventually ends in landfills. (Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group (2017). Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017.)
- Every second, a whole garbage truck full of textiles is thrown out. (Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2017). A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future.)
- If today’s textile collection rate triples by 2030, it could be worth more than EUR 4 billion for the world economy.
- (Global Fashion Agenda and Boston Consulting Group (2017). Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2017.)
- If the industry were to find a way to collect and recycle all fibres, the value would equal up to EUR 80 billion. (Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2017). A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future.)
- Today less than 15% of clothes are collected for recycling, and less than 1% of the material used to produce clothing is recycled into new clothing. (Ellen MacArthur Foundation (2017). A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning Fashion’s Future.)
The report follows the news that the UK government recently rejected calls to implement a 1p “fast fashion tax”.