The clothing industry is one of the world's most polluting industries and EU’s 4th largest cause of environmental pressure. However in 2019, European Environmental Agency has identified textiles as a priority product category for circular economy by envisaging development of a multi-stakeholder circular system focusing on sustainable resource use by 2025. Such circular systems typically operates in complex, globally-dispersed, multi-tiered commodity chains, consisting of fashion retailers and charities as the main collectors (in western economies), as well as commercial sorters and end recyclers (mostly in developing nations). This creates several trade-offs between attaining efficiency for facilitating global trade of used clothes vs. higher value effectiveness in regional systems. This challenge lays a crucial background to CLoSED.

Expected results and effects

The end of the project goals are to:

  • create knowledge and influence development of new circular supply chain models that would reduce the environmental impact of clothing industry and simultaneously create sustainable value. lay a platform for knowledge sharing and learning among several clothing industry stakeholders involved in the project. enable systemic scaled-up solutions that can mitigate challenges like low share of collected used clothes, low fraction of reusable clothes, and low quality/value of recycled clothes.
  • enable duplication or replication of the proposed solutions in similar or less complex industries having similar value chain challenges and formats (e.g. footwear, leather).

In the long run, CLOSeD will contribute to the environment and society along Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 8, 9 and 12 by:

  • facilitating higher reuse, recycling, and increased value in transnational circular clothing supply chains by mobilizing a knowledge-based platform,
  • supporting and promoting higher levels of economic productivity among players, e.g. sorting/recycling SMEs that are involved in circular clothing economy, and
  • facilitating international trade in circular clothing supply chains to create opportunities for job creation, integrate new arrivals, such as refugees in the Global North

Planned approach and implementation

CLOSeD will be carried out in three work phases to explore circular clothing supply chains. The project methodology combines value mapping approach, multiple case studies and focus group study with relevant industry practitioners.

The multiple case study will include cases that represent specific circular clothing supply chain formats that are globally-dispersed, resulting in the flow of used clothes from Global North to Global South to include collection, sorting, and re-processing activities.

CLOSeD builds on participatory research to co-produce practitioner-oriented insights with guidelines for industry practitioners. For this we will engage with Re:textile platform and Textile&Fashion2030, in order to generate a vast knowledge-base and network.