H&M and Adidas are among the newest members to join the New Cotton Project global consortium, which is striving to establish a circular economy for fashion textiles. These two industry giants will be producing clothing from cellulose carbamate fibers, which are fibers that have been recycled from textile, cardboard, and other waste with a high cellulose content. These fibers will be provided by Infinited Fiber, another consortium collaborator, and will be spun, dyed, knitted, and weaved into yarns and fabrics. These fabrics will then go on to be sewn into H&M’s and Adidas’s commercial fashion products.
Collecting customer feedback
Not only will H&M and Adidas be producing clothing from recycled fabrics, but they will also be conducting important user research. By collecting valuable customer feedback on their clothing products throughout their entire life cycle, they will ultimately help the consortium improve the textile recycling process. Together, their collaboration will facilitate the scale and volume needed to properly test this new circular fashion production model.
Taking back old fashion garments
What’s more, H&M has announced that a new take-back scheme is in the works. Their take-back scheme would retrieve their customers’ used clothing items once they’ve reached their end-of-life, and will deliver them to sorting facilities. From there, they will either be resold or siphoned off into chemical recycling feedstock, depending on the quality of the garment.
“These competitors unite through the understanding that collaboration is necessary to achieve circularity at the industry level.”
Industry collaboration towards circular fashion
Every year, $500 billion of value is lost due to clothing underutilization and a lack of recycling. Not only that, global apparel consumption is projected to rise by 63% to 102 million tons in 2030, signaling that a lot more waste is yet to come – or, a lot more opportunity. Infinited Fiber Company, a Finnish biotechnology group, recognized this problem and its potential to be converted into a sustainable business opportunity. The company sourced over €6 million of European Union research and innovation funding to form this consortium, through which all its partners, including H&M and Adidas, collaborate to create a circular fashion industry blueprint.
Despite being competitors, H&M, Adidas, and other fashion brands from the New Cotton Project consortium have decided to join forces to validate this new mode of operation. These competitors unite through the understanding that collaboration is necessary to achieve circularity at the industry level. Small-scale, isolated initiatives by individual fashion brands are just not sufficient to meet the strict targets set by the Paris Climate Agreement. Luckily for us and the planet, multiple brands across the textile and fashion supply chain have come together to spark the change towards a circular economy of fashion.