The British Fashion Council (BFC)’s Institute of Positive Fashion (IPF) announces its first flagship research project, the Waste Ecosystem Project. The research will lead to a focused action-driven plan, detailing solutions for how the fashion industry can responsibly manage inventory, reduce, and move to circular business operations. The research will look at actions and infrastructures needed in key areas and outline a proposal for change across the whole value chain, and other key areas of the industry such as Education and Training, Collections and Recycling infrastructure, Textile Recycling Innovations, Upcycling and Consumer Mindset. The project’s ambition is to fast-track the move to a circular fashion industry in the UK and act as a blueprint to share with other organisations and nations to look at their efforts in creating a circular fashion industry globally.
The fashion industry’s environmental impact is substantial; the industry accounts for 4% of all global carbon emissions and the 2019 Pulse report states that the global textiles industry will be accountable for ¼ of the world’s carbon budget by 2050 without radical action. According to The Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) approximately 11 million items of clothing go into landfill each year.
In 2020 research undertaken for the BFC by Oxford Economics showed that the COVID crisis saw 73% of British fashion brands experiencing cancelled orders from wholesale partners and UK clothes sales falling by 34% in March alone, resulting in an unprecedented inventory crisis.
The industry-wide concerns which existed before the pandemic have worsened as a result of this crisis. There is a need to be more agile, design out waste and optimise inventory levels. The Waste Ecosystem Project research will provide guidance and outline tangible actions required to emerge from the crisis more resilient and responsible by building more cohesive value chains and reimagining them to be regenerative and restorative in nature. Focusing on collaboration and the creation of a circular fashion industry in the UK, the Waste Ecosystem Project will work with industry, academia, and Government across three areas:
- Global Research: Market assessment to find best practice and innovation, culminating in a research paper to set out the proposed parameters and requirements for enabling the UK fashion industry to become circular.
- Proposal for Change: from the research findings, set out the guidelines and a roadmap as a proposal for change
- Implementation: working with businesses and Government, the final phase will look at a programme for implementing best practice in the UK
The BFC is delighted to welcome Vanish, part of Reckitt Benckiser, as a Founding Partner of the IPF to support this Research stage of the Waste Ecosystem Project. The new partnership will also see Vanish become the BFC’s official Garment Care Partner and establish a year-long consumer education programme to embed more sustainable fashion behaviours in collaboration with industry experts, fashion influencers and thought leaders. Vanish will also sponsor London Fashion Week, helping raise awareness of circular fashion to a wider consumer audience. Bringing together the BFC’s collective power of the fashion industry with Varnish’s deep insight into consumer behaviours relating to washing, caring, and wearing clothes, the partnership aims to provide the necessary tools and expertise to make a responsible wardrobe more easily achievable.
Caroline Rush, BFC Chief Executive commented: “Now, more than ever, there is a need to help the fashion industry accelerate towards a world of circularity as a result of the inventory waste crisis. Post the pandemic, we have a massive opportunity to reset the fashion industry rather than returning to business as usual and the Waste Ecosystem Project will play a key part in this. We are delighted to work with Vanish on this project and together to engage both consumers and industry in playing their part in fashion circularity.”
The IPF helps the British Fashion Industry lead in the goal to be more resilient and circular through global collaboration and local action. Leveraging global expertise and resources, the IPF adopts standards, develops and establishes frameworks to reset and create a new blueprint for the industry. Through identifying common challenges, the IPF calls for collective action and investment in innovation to make a difference. The IPF aims to bring the industry in tune with the needs of the planet by taking a holistic approach across environment, people, community & craftsmanship.