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COPENHAGEN: May 16, 2018. H&M, Gap, Burberry and other fashion retailers are joining forces to ‘Make Fashion Circular’ – a bid to recreate the fashion industry based on the principles of a circular economy.

According to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the industry can capture US$460 billion currently lost due to the underutilisation of clothes, and a further US$100 billion from clothing currently lost to landfill and incineration.

Supported by Walmart and the C&A Foundation, Burberry, Gap, H&M, HSBC, NIKE and Stella McCartney plan to transform and redesign the fashion industry from “one of the most polluting and wasteful operations today,” according to the Foundation.

The participants want to create a system that delivers benefits for citizens, the environment and companies by developing business models that keep clothes in use; produce materials that are renewable and safe; and solutions that turn used clothes into new clothes.

MFC core partners“For the fashion industry to thrive in the future we must replace the take-make-dispose model, which is worn out,” declared Ellen MacArthur. “We need a circular economy for fashion in which clothes are kept at their highest value and designed from the outset to never end up as waste. By joining forces to Make Fashion Circular we can harness the creativity and innovation that is at the heart of this US$1.3 trillion industry to create a system that delivers benefits for everyone.”

Make Fashion Circular builds on the vision outlined in the Foundation’s 2017 report A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion's future.

“Having seen the issues and challenges of the current fashion and apparel supply chain, we know there is an urgent need for a new model for sustainable production and consumption,” said Edwin Keh, CEO of the Hong Kong Research Institute of Textiles and Apparel. “Suboptimal production practices, the lack of logistics coordination, and our current linear incomplete business models have resulted in the unnecessary creation of huge volumes of waste, and the shortening of the useful life of materials.”

Earlier this year BMW joined 29 major corporations with collective annual revenues of US$1.3 trillion in supporting a circular economy initiative launched by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD).

This is the latest attempt by companies to reinvent the way they produce, use and dispose of the materials that make up global trade by moving away from what the Ellen MacArthur Foundation describes as the traditional "take-make-dispose" economic model to one that is regenerative by design.

To this end Panalpina and its research partner Cardiff University have been awarded a research grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council to determine the supply chain implications that arise from the circular economy.

"The take-make-dispose supply chains of the past are morphing into the distributed, circular and sustainable supply chains of the future," explained Mike Wilson, Panalpina's global head of Logistics and Manufacturing. "But the transition to the circular economy brings challenges to traditional manufacturing and retail supply chains and the grant has allowed us to intensify our research and help our customers address these challenges."

In addition to BMW, members of the new WBCSD initiative include Accenture, Arcadis, ArcelorMittal, BASF, BCG, CRH, Dow, DSM, Enel, ExxonMobil, EY, Honda, IFF, KPMG, Michelin, Navigant, Novartis, Philips, PWC, Rabobank, Renault, SABIC, Saint-Gobain, Solvay, Stora Enso, Veolia, Yara and Yokogawa.