World’s major fashion brands to take lessons on sustainability

A thrifty partnership between the not-for-profit sustainable fashion organisation MADE-BY and textile tracking software Reverse Resources is targeting major European fashion brands and their suppliers in Asia to help them run a more efficient business by minimising textile wastage and building a sustainable life cycle for the clothes we wear.

The new collaboration comes after a white paper published in August by Reverse Resource looked into the major fabric and garment factories in China and Bangladesh - the two largest clothing producers in the world - found that manufacturers producing textiles and clothes for many of the world’s major fashion brands and retail outlets are “spilling” an average of 25 per cent of virgin material resources, which either end up in landfill or being incinerated.

Subsidised by the European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP), a €3.6-million (£3.2 million) programme aimed at imbuing the European clothing sector with circular economy principles, companies taking part in the new project will receive support and expertise to reduce textile waste over the next three years through the measurement of material leftovers, the exploration of new ways of reducing spillage and the identification of new recycling and remanufacturing solutions to cut out waste.

By involving stakeholders at all levels of the supply chain, from brands, designers and retailers to consumers and recyclers, the initiative hopes to instill a more sustainable culture deep within the industry.

Working for nearly 15 years to encourage some of the biggest brands to be more sustainable - including Hugo Boss, Ted Baker, and Tommy Hilfiger - MADE-BY engages those in the industry on sustainability, providing strategic consultancy and implementation support. Its MODE tracker tool currently helps brands and retailers improve sustainability by measuring a company’s progress on a range of indicators.

Commenting on the partnership, Ria Kearney, Senior Consultant at MADE-BY, said: “We are delighted to partner with Reverse Resources to better understand the current situation in regard to material leftovers and to trial and test practical innovations to improve current practices. This is a largely unexplored topic, and the project findings will be shared across the clothing sector in order to support the broader move towards circularity.”

"Our software solution to digitalise production leftovers can result in a significant business case for brands and factories to cooperate towards a circular economy,” added Ann Runnel, founder and CEO at Reverse Resources. “The collaboration with MADE-BY is a fantastic opportunity to build on the research we have already conducted in China and Bangladesh and further this mission.”   

ECAP follows on from the Waste and Resources Action Programme’s (WRAP) Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), which brought together major brands in the clothing industry to work towards reducing textiles wastage and spillage. In WRAP’s ‘Valuing our clothes: the cost of UK fashion’ report released in July of this year, it was shown that among SCAP signatories there had been a 13.5 per cent reduction in water use, a 10.6 per cent reduction in carbon use and a 0.8 per cent reduction in waste.

WRAP’s recent ‘Consumer Clothing Survey 2017’ also showed that UK consumers are starting to pay more attention to the environmental and ethical factors in the production of the clothing that they buy, with 74 per cent declaring that durability of clothing was an important factor to consider when buying clothes, while 59 per cent of unwanted clothes are going to charity with only six per cent going to general rubbish.

More information on the initiative is also available on the MADE-BY website