In recent years there has been some great progress in the fashion industry, particularly around circular fashion. Thanks to the efforts of global initiatives like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s “Make Fashion Circular”, and the many brands who are making commitments, more industry stakeholders have circular fashion on the brain.
But there is an effort to making fashion circular happening here at home in Canada, and we are proud to be leading the way! For the past four years, circular fashion has been on our agenda at the annual WEAR conference as we have hosted a number of keynotes, panels and breakouts related to circular business models (resale, rental, repair), design for circularity, and more. WEAR has hosted global circular fashion leaders such as the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, H&M, Circular Solutions, Value Village, thredUP, Queen of Raw, MBDC Cradle to Cradle, C&A, Evrnu, Debrand, Bank & Vogue, Renewal Workshop, The United Nations, Wearable Collections, and many others.
And for the last three years we have been convening the Ontario Textile Diversion Collaborative (OTDC) a group of multiple stakeholders (brands, retailers, charities, collectors, municipalities, NGOs and academics) in an effort to divert textiles from landfill.
Through our work with OTDC we have accomplished a great deal.
With our partner Public Inc advertising agency, we created a public awareness campaign aimed at helping citizens understand that NOTHING goes in the garbage. The creative is free for anyone to download and use. So please go ahead!
We are now in the process of conducting our own quarterly waste audits in partnership with Seneca College. So far we have completed two audits, with two more to go. Each audit determines how much clothing is being thrown in the garbage, what condition it is in, what material it is (ie synthetic vs natural) and what category of textiles it is – clothing, footwear, home textiles etc.
Last year we supported the amendment of the stuffed articles regulation, which was previously “new material only” and now can contain recycled content!
With the support of Her Honour, the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, we engaged other manufacturing sectors (automotive, building, carpet, furniture) in a discussion around the feasibility of recycled textiles in place of virgin materials.
We recently held a workshop with municipalities, charities, policy experts and brand owners, to explore what extended producer responsibility (EPR) for textiles could look like in Canada, and we will issue a report for the government to consider.
As for the year ahead, we have a number of projects aimed at circular fashion including a grassroots campaign (launching soon) to help citizens understand their role in policy change, by providing a step by step guide on how to engage their local MP in an effort to reverse the federal duty drawback (a credit given to retailers for landfilling damaged, returned and unsellable goods).
And we are excited that the federal government is now interested in circular fashion, particularly as it relates to synthetic materials which are plastic. We were recently awarded a grant from the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Canada to conduct a textile recycling feasibility study and roadmap for the industry. This much needed research will explore mechanical, chemical and hydrothermal recycling programs, and includes evaluating the science, technology, equipment, costs, inputs, outputs, end markets and more.
Finally, I’m thrilled to have been appointed by the Canadian Standards Association Group to lead a new committee on the development of a circular fashion standard for Canada. This process will involve collaborating with global standard schemes, as well as Canadian brands and retailers to determine what a standard (or set of standards) should look like in Canada. Our hope is to have something in place for the 7th annual WEAR which is taking place in Toronto Oct 26-27th.
Let us know if you are interested in collaborating around circular fashion in Canada!