This week we celebrate creativity and the imagination of entrepreneurs who are innovating the sustainable ideas of tomorrow. Becoming more sustainable, which includes better environmental, economic, and social practices, is an important goal for all companies today, whether they’re large corporations or brand new startups. Changing to a sustainable model and moving from a linear economy to a circular economy may not be easy, but with the right toolset and the power of innovation, it can be achieved. 

The textile and clothing industry is one of the most pollutive industries in the world. It is responsible for 20% of global water pollution, 10% of all carbon emissions, and contributes to many other major environmental detriments. Many of these problems are the result of unsustainable business as a result of a linear economy model, in which there is little to no consideration for waste or overuse in the aim of achieving profits. Shifting to a circular economy model will guide the industry towards more environmentally sustainable practices by finding ways to repurpose waste in production, replacing environmentally harmful materials for more sustainable ones, and adopting less damaging farming methods to prevent soil degradation and mass deforestation. 

In a world of fast fashion and trends, businesses are pressured into making a large quantity of clothing in a short amount of time in order to meet the demand. Transitioning to a sustainable business model is more important than ever for creating a circular economy. Instead of making take-make-dispose linear products, designing and producing clothing that are meant for extended use, disassembly, reuse and recycling from the outset is an easy way to economically transition your business. The digital ability of tracking and feedback makes this process easier than ever. Transitioning to a circular business model will improve future resilience and competitive advantage. With world GDP rebounding by 5.4% in 2021 and expected growth of 4.4% in 2022 and revenues in the global apparel and footwear industry to grow , luxury leading with 16% growth, it is as important as ever to adopt a circular business model to meet the demand of consumers and ensure a long-term market in a sustainable way as we come out of the pandemic and transition back to normal life. Having creative and innovative ideas will help improve the feasibility of a transition to a circular economy and improve the lifespan of the products created. 

A company must be socially sustainable as well as it is economically and environmentally sustainable. There are many obstacles to achieving social sustainability within the textile and clothing industry, both within the industry itself and for the consumers it provides to. Within the industry itself, clothing is produced by workers who are paid far less than their nation’s minimum wage, and factories can even be manned by a workforce of children. The days are very long in unsafe conditions, and the workers are not permitted to unionize. On the side of the consumers, fast fashion contributes to a lack of quality clothing that barely lasts more than five uses, leading to increased spending on the side of consumers and a rise in discarded clothing that can’t be reused. A circular economy model for these companies is essential to combat these inequities, to reduce the wastefulness that fast fashion promotes in the industry but also to defend the rights and livelihoods of the exploited workforce. This is the objective of the CirCoAx initiative, and the training it seeks to provide to improve the textile and clothing industry in this area and many more. 

There is much work that needs to be done in order to transform the textile and clothing industry in order to transform it from an unsustainable, take-and-make industry into a sustainable, circular one, and it can only be done by the power of innovation. The CirCoAx program exists to promote this innovation, with funding of more than €1 million dedicated to educating companies and promoting innovative new startups with the right ideas and practices in mind to transform the industry based on a circular economy model. The same old methods have proven to be inefficient at best and destructive at worst, and it’s time to promote those people that have innovative ideas to transform not only the industry but also our future. In the spirit of the World Creativity and Innovation Week, CirCoAx will continue to seek out and promote innovative individuals and entities that can help change this world for the better. 

About COSME   

COSME is the programme for the Competitiveness of Enterprises and Small and Medium-sized Enterprises by the European Commission’s Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (EASME).  

This programme assists SMEs to develop their business models, to obtain funds and to internationalise. This scheme also supports public administrations to enhance the entrepreneurial environment and to facilitate the economic growth of the EU. During the funding period of 2014-2020, this programme allocated €2.3 billion to support SMEs  

About IED   

Istituto Europeo di Design is an academic institution working in education, training, and the research of fashion, design, visual communication, and management. IED has offices in Spain (Madrid and Barcelona), Italy (Milan, Rome and five other cities) and Brazil (São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro). IED works in several EU and COSME countries through collaborations and arrangements with institutions, business support organisations, teachers, experts, and mentors. IED has an extensive network of connections in the fashion and textile sector (F&T).  

About Finnova  

Finnova es una fundación que trabaja para la promoción y el desarrollo de la innovación y el espíritu empresarial a nivel de la UE. Con sede en Bruselas, opera a través de colaboraciones y asociaciones en todos los países de la Unión Europea. La experiencia de Finnova liderando actividades de comunicación y difusión de proyectos europeos se combina con una sólida experiencia probada en la creación de empresas y programas de apoyo empresarial, como aceleradoras, incubadoras y selección y adjudicación de eventos ceremoniales.   

About Texfor  

Texfor is a leading textile association in Spain with roughly 400 members. Founded in 2010 and based in Catalonia, Texfor brings together enterprises from the textile value chain, i.e. from weaving to fabrics as well as accessories, textile finishing, printing, and dyeing for the dressmaking industry, textiles for households and technical and industrial applications. Texfor has an extensive expertise as it has worked in relevant expert committees at an EU level: university and professional training, developing financial capacities, cross-cutting collaboration, fostering RDI, specialised services, and leadership in sustainability focused on the circular economy.  

About Circulab  

Circulab is a laboratory and design studio specialising in developing transformation methods, tools and programmes to help enterprises adopt circular and sustainable business models. Circulab has designed a number of tools to implement a circular business model in enterprises. It works in 23 countries – 9 out of them in the EU – and it supports projects via 60 independent entrepreneurial consultants. It applies circular methodologies and tools.  

About The Circular Project co-designed with HumanNation  

TCP (The Circular Project) favours and promotes a circular and sustainable fashion in different areas, offering the fashion industry a communication strategy based on a cross-cutting and systemic approach of the circular economy. TCP combines social, ethical, environmental and economic aspects, and has a strong presence and connections in the sustainable fashion world.  

TCP has promoted the Circular Sustainable Fashion Week Madrid, a one-of-a-kind event, and also serves as HQ for the Spanish Association for the Sustainability, Innovation and Circularity in the Fashion Industry. TCP is also ambassador of Sannas (Triple Bottom Line Business Association) and has collaborated in a wide array of Spanish, European, and Latin American institutions and enterprises.  

The Circular Project works with Human Nation to co-design and develop CirCoAX. HumanNation is a consultancy enterprise specialising in the development of transformative and disruptive ecosystems of innovation and companies for the ‘new economy’. It is based on the fourth economic sector, the systemic thinking, and co-creation. It raises awareness in organisations and ecosystems to respect the planetary boundaries and the social fabric, creating resilient local economies with a global perspective.