- The event was a starting point for collaboration between COSME circular fashion projects.
- The webinar discussed the challenges and opportunities of the circular economy in the textile sector on an international scale, with European and Latin American representatives from the public and private sectors.
- A total of 140 people from 19 different countries registered for the event
Brussels, 28.05.2021 – The online event “circular economy: sustainability and new Jobs for the textile industry”, a Partner Event of #EUGreenWeek, Europe’s leading annual environmental policy conference, was held on Thursday, May 27. With more than 140 registrants, a total of 86 attendees of 14 nationalities viewed the live webinar. The aim of the conference was to encourage talent and innovation among entrepreneurs at European and international level to promote a transformation of the fashion and textile industry in line with the circular economy model, providing a solution to the serious problems of the conventional sector, such as pollution or the working conditions of many of the workers along the production chain.
The event was moderated by Juanma Revuelta, CEO of the Finnova Foundation, who presented the “Next Textile Generation” initiative. This platform brings together the work of the various COSME projects that were presented at the event, as well as serving as a tool for disseminating relevant information on fashion and textiles and attracting European funds for related projects.
The event was opened by Natalia Martínez Páramo, head of Unit in the European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency (EISMEA), of the European Commission. In an inspiring intervention, Natalia talked about the different lines of action in which the European Commission is currently working regarding circular economy, such as the “Circular Economy Package”, implemented in 2015 or the New Circular Economy Action Plan, of the European Green Deal. She pointed out that “this planet does not have unlimited resources and we have to learn to use what we have much more carefully than in the past”. To do this, “we have to move away from our linear model”.
Regarding the textile sector in particular, Natalia Martínez provided a key fact, which is that in the European Union “five million people work directly in the fashion value chain and more than one million in the high fashion industry, which makes it one of the most dynamic and creative sectors”. Therefore, betting on generating jobs that revolve around the circular model is a key aspect for a sustainable future.
Her intervention was followed by the “circular economy in the fashion and textile industry” table, where the different partners of the COSME project CirCoAX by CircularInnoBooster presented their work in favour of circularity and sustainability.
Inaugurating this block, José Francisco García, director of IED Innovation Lab, the leading entity of CirCoAX by CircularInnoBooster, took the floor to summarize the keys to the project: “we want to transform the fashion and textile industry through innovation”, supporting the entrepreneurship of business models that are in line with the circular economy, to scale circular, regenerative and sustainable companies. To this end, a call will soon be launched for SMEs and startups interested in being part of the project to opt to be beneficiaries of the CirCoAX accelerator, receiving mentoring and funding.
Adrián Noheda, EU Funding for Circular Economy and Innovation at Finnova Foundation
The next speaker was Adrian Noheda, expert in European Funds, Circular Economy and Innovation of the Finnova Foundation, who spoke about funding opportunities in Europe for the textile and fashion industry, delving into the EIC (European Innovation Council) program, and its three lines of action: EIC PathFinder, EIC Transition and EIC Accelerator, which offers grants of up to 2.5 million euros to promote innovation.
Paloma García, director of The Circular Project and president of SIC Moda (Spanish Association for Sustainability, Innovation and Circularity in Fashion), presented her inspiring career and experience in the fashion industry, based on an inclusive, creative, conscious, and sustainable perspective. Paloma is also the director of Circular Sustainable Fashion Week Madrid, which guarantees a “zero-emissions catwalk”. These are the values she now brings to the CirCoAX project, supporting “the creation of brands that generate a positive impact”, to achieve “an industry that optimizes resources to close the circle of the production chain”.
The Circular Project is part of this CirCoAX in co-design with HumanNation, founded by Sharam Yalda, who provided an interesting approach to the symptoms and causes that make this industry the second most polluting. Through this perspective, he showed how practices such as recycling, although necessary, are not enough. The way to achieve an effective conversion of the industry is through the regenerative model: “to treat the structural problems we must go deep into the cause”. About CirCoAX, he added that it is about “co-design, collaboration and doing things together”.
Closing the table of consortium partners, David Allo, director of sustainability of TEXFOR (Confederación de la Industria Textil), provided a more focused perspective on the production part of the value chain. He alleged that this part of the industry is working on the “creation of specific synergies for the textile sector related to the circular economy, thanks to associations such as EURATEX (European Apparel and Textile Confederation). In addition, he has hailed the European legislation in favour of the circular economy, but sometimes that makes it “difficult to survive in the fashion and textile industry”.
After the presentations of the partners, a second block was followed by “key players for the transformation of the textile and fashion industry”. The first speaker was Tobias Bierman, counsellor for the environment, climate, and employment at the European Union delegation in Colombia. In this Latin American country, the textile sector employs a significant percentage of the population, and it is working to become an example of industry transformation at the international level. However, as Biermann added, the circular economy still requires “new technologies and materials, major changes and cross-sector collaborations, an efficient and innovative production system, better environmental practices and a transformation in creative design”. A strategy is currently being worked on to achieve all these goals.
Another relevant actor to achieve a sustainable change in the textile and fashion industry are entities such as IVACE, the Valencian Institute for Business Competitiveness. Its head of Unit for European Projects, Francisco Ferrando, has emphasized the work of this institution in supporting European projects related to the circular economy and the textile sector, promoting SMEs and startups. As a key aspect, he pointed out that “the future of the textile sector is not what is manufactured, but how it is manufactured”.
In this regard, he indicated that “the standards that Europe is setting in terms of human rights and circularity cannot be fulfilled by many of the countries where production is located”. For these standards to be achieved, one alternative is to return part of the manufacturing that is offshored to Europe.
Santiago Ramos Navarro, coordinator of the Green and Circular Economy course at the Escuela de Organización Industrial and CEO founder of Reloops, has emphasized the devastation of natural resources produced by the current fashion and textile industry, and the need to implement the circular economy model, since “there is still a lot of work to be done”. Education is fundamental to educate society on these concepts and train the professionals of the future who will be the generators of change. In addition, he stated that sustainability and the circular economy must be educated in a transversal way.
From Buenos Aires, Argentina, Natalia Stanchi, institutional manager of the Mediapila Foundation, participated with the collaboration of her colleague Carlota Wright for simultaneous translation. This foundation is an Argentinian social organization that works for the labour inclusion of Latin American women living in social and economic vulnerability. In her speech, she presented the three key aspects of the foundation: the social aspect, being a “job opportunity and mentoring for the women of mediapila”; a part linked to the environment, since its value chain is “sustainable and provides decent work” and the circular economy, since “by buying a product from the foundation, the consumer is betting on the circular economy and is choosing to reinvest in training for more women”. Her project is a clear example of how it is possible to combine innovation, commitment to the environment and social improvement.
Finally, there was a round table composed of four other COSME projects linked to circular fashion, three of them from the same call as the CirCoAX by CircularInnoBooster project, to create synergies and work together to achieve common goals.
The first speaker was Angeliki Georgokosta, project manager of the S4Fashion project. Through this project they are training SMEs to “introduce new sustainable and circular processes in the fashion industry”. Their vision is to change perspectives and redefine the fashion sector according to the needs of our world for ethical, inclusive, and responsible production and consumption. The 25 projects selected by S4Fashion will participate in building a greener fashion sector, “producing evidence-based knowledge on sustainability and circular fashion and sharing the results with the European community”.
The next speaker was Arthur ten Wolde, CEO of Ecopreneur, partner of the Fashion for Change project. The aim of this project is to scale SMEs and startups by facilitating capacity building and transnational cooperation, supporting companies with grants and mentoring. 25 finalists will receive up to 10,000 euros in funding, as well as technical assistance and mentoring.
Fiori Zafeiropou, coordinator of Fashion Revolution Greece and founder of SOFFA (Social Fashion Factory) presented the Small but Perfect project. Their goal is to “accelerate fashion industry accelerators”. To do so, they work with incubators, Fashion Weeks, and other associations. In this way, they work on the creation of a network of relevant actors in circular fashion: “Common Objective”.
Finally, Clara Mallart, head of sustainability and textile circular economy at MODACC (the Catalan fashion and textile cluster), and sustainability manager of the FASCINATE project, closed the event. This project is made up of 5 clusters. In addition to working with the fashion and textile industry, they give importance to the technology sector. Its objective is to create a “common internationalization strategy for SMEs”, through activities such as the “New Value Chains Workshop”.
You can watch the event again at http://green-week.circoax.eu/
About CirCoAX by CircularInnoBooster
CircularInnoBooster Fashion and Textile (F&t) is a European project of the COSME Programme, with a 2-year duration and a budget of 1.128.000 €. It is 75% co-financed by the European institution. Led by the IED (Istituto Europeo di Design), together with the Finnova Foundation, Texfor, Circulab and The Circular Project with HumanNation, it aims to transform the highly polluting fashion and textile industries through innovation. It seeks to foster entrepreneurship to generate business models based on the circular economy, turning SMEs and start-ups into sustainable, circular, and regenerative companies.
CirCoAX LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/circoax-by-circularinnobooster
COSME is the program for the Competitiveness of Small and Medium Enterprises of the Executive Agency for Small and Medium Enterprises (EASME) of the European Commission.
Through this program, assistance is offered to SMEs to develop their business models, access financing and internationalize. Likewise, support is offered to public administrations to improve the business environment and facilitate economic growth in the European Union. During the 2014-2020 funding period, this program allocated 2.3 billion euros to support SMEs.
The Istituto Europeo di Design is an academic institution that operates in the fields of education, training, and research in the disciplines of design, fashion, visual communication, and management, covering professional, vocational, and business design training. IED has branches across Spain (Madrid, Barcelona), Italy (Milan, Rome, and 5 other cities), and Brazil (São Paolo, Rio de Janeiro). It operates across several EU and COSME countries through collaborations and agreements with institutions, business support organizations, professors, experts, and mentors with whom it has established relationships. IED draws on a broad network of connections in the F&T sector specifically for this project, drawing on R&D in the areas of fashion design, product design, interior design, visual arts, communications, and management.
FINNOVA is a foundation that works for the promotion and development of innovation and entrepreneurship at the EU level. With headquarters in Brussels, it operates through collaborations and partnerships across EU countries. FINNOVA expertise in leading communication and dissemination activities for EU projects is coupled with strong proven experience in setting up businesses and entrepreneurial support programmes, like accelerators, incubators and selection and award/ceremonial events.
TEXFOR is the reference textile association in Spain with 400 members. Founded in November 2010 and located in Catalonia, it groups companies of the whole textile value chain, from yarns to fabrics including accessories, finishing processes, printing and dying for the apparel industry, home textiles, and technical/industrial applications. Texfor has specialization and experience, having worked on important EU-level expert committees: University and Vocational Training, Financial capacity building, Cross-Sectoral collaboration, R+D+I promotion, specialized services, and sustainability leadership focused on the circular economy.
CIRCULAB is a business design lab and studio specialised in developing transformation methodology, tools and programmes to help businesses develop circular and sustainable business models. CIRCULAB has designed a toolkit for implementing Circularity in businesses and operates across +23 countries (9 EU countries), supporting projects through +60 certified independent CE consultants, applying the Circ methodology and tools.
TCP is a Circular and Slow Fashion promotion firm that collaborates with experts in the field to offer a communication strategy, platform and expertise on circular value chains, applying a broad and systemic approach to Circular Economy, integrating social, ethical, environmental and economic approaches. It has a strong presence and connections to the sustainable fashion world through the Asociación Española para la Sostenibilidad, la Innovación y la Circularidad en Moda, Sannas (Triple Bottom Line Business Association) and a broad institutional and industrial network across Spain, Europe and South America.
For this project, The Circular Project works with HumanNation for the co-design and development of the project. HumanNation is a consulting firm specialised in the development of transformative and disruptive ecosystems of innovation and business: the ‘New Economy’. Based on the Fourth Economic Sector, systemic thinking and co-creation, it promotes awareness within organizations and ecosystems to respect planetary boundaries and social fabric, creating resilient economies at the local level, with a global perspective.