The circular economy: What is it?

Report of one of the Smart Talks, that took place last 19 of September in the Smart Square Hall 3 :

The circular economy: what is it? Objectives and challenges for the fashion sector.

Sven Hermann (Ellen MacArthur Foundation)
Chris Grantham (IDEO)
Andreas Röhrich (Wolford AG)
Smart Talk moderated by Giusy Bettoni, President of CLASS and consultant for Première Vision on innovation and sustainable development for textiles, fashion and design.
Sven Hermann of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, created to promote the circular economy, firstly offered a schematic explanation: the circular economy is an economic concept within the context of sustainable development, inspired by industrial ecology, where the waste from one industry is recycled as the raw material for another industry or for itself. This economy works in a loop, based on a “Take-Make-Dispose” model. It is a restorative industrial economy where the flows of materials are of two clearly distinct types: biological nutrients that can safely re-enter the biosphere, and technical inputs, designed for being recycled while maintaining a high standard of quality without entering the biosphere. In short, a restorative and regenerative cycle that offers a large number of financial opportunities.
According to Sven, the transition towards a new Circular Economy needs to be speeded up and there are a number of ways to achieve this:
•Business and government: catalysts for circular activities in the global economy;
•Ideas and analysis: promote the solid proofs of the benefits of the circular economy;
•Systemic initiatives: transform the flow of key materials to help the circular economy to grow on the global scale;
•Education: encourage stakeholders in the fashion industry to redesign the future within the context of the circular economy;
• Communication: engage the public worldwide around the circular economy
The representative of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation presented his project for a circular economy in textiles using clothes, as a new mission, entitled “Circular Fibres Initiative”. This initiative is inspired by the success of the “New Plastic Economy» initiative and underlines the growing importance of a collaborative mentality. This collaboration must, in effect, enable the creation of new values and opportunities. The objective for the Foundation would be to analyse how textiles circulate, in order to develop new behaviours and new ways of consuming fashion.
Chris Grantham, Circular Economy Portfolio Director at IDEO, supported this idea of a circular economy with his guide to circular design, which presents a number of innovative solutions and design-related initiatives to move towards a circular economy.
Lastly Andreas Roerich, R&D, Product and Textiles Sourcing Director for Wolford, shared his procurement experience, which led his company to become a catalyst for the changes needed in the apparel industry. Andreas presented the “cradle to cradle” concept applied to the lingerie and hosiery sector. This is partly a question of eco-design but also a concept of environmental ethics which integrates at all levels, from the design, production and reuse of a product, an environmental standard that is based on the concept of “zero pollution and 100% recycled.”
Once it has been recycled, an item should be able to produce the same item again, with just the addition of a renewable energy in the cycle. At Wolford, the teams decided to re-design their products by thinking of them in terms of composting. Thanks to this new approach to production, they created the C2C tights and the C2C lingerie collection, finished products created within the circular economy and presented on the Smart Wardrobe area of the Smart Square