A closed loop fashion system requires scaling solutions now, not later

October 2, 2020 by  
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A closed loop fashion system requires scaling solutions now, not later Deonna Anderson Fri, 10/02/2020 – 01:00 The fashion industry is damaging to the planet — it’s responsible for 10 percent of the world’s carbon emissions. But there are companies — both large and small — trying to solve this problem. Back in 2017, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation tapped on large brands such as Burberry, Gap and H&M to make fashion circular  — ensuring that clothes are made from safe and renewable materials, establishing new business models to increase their use and developing systems that would enable more old clothes to be turned into new garments. Outside of this particular coalition of companies, other fashion businesses are attempting to make the industry more circular by using customizable digital technology, eliminating excess production and tracking the life cycle of products. One of those companies is San Francisco-based clothing startup unspun , which produces sustainable jeans via a unique digital process: customers design their ideal pair of jeans, use their smartphones to takes a 3D scan of their bodies, then receive the custom-built denim in the mail.  “We think it’s really important to think of this from a closed loop and regenerative system, because humans are so used to going for the ‘next thing,'” said Beth Esponnette, co-founder of unspun, during part one of a discussion about scaling circular fashion during Circularity 20 in late August. It’s really hard to change our behavior, and even if we were able to do that, it’s not going to fix the problems in the system. “It’s really hard to change our behavior, and even if we were able to do that, it’s not going to fix the problems in the system,” Esponnette continued. She noted that unspun is not trying to villify consumption, but rather to set up a more responsible industry. The company is designing for disassembly and thinking about how to go from yarn to product and back to yarn again. “It’s not quite ready yet but it’s soon to be on to its first prototypes, so we really see the industry being no-waste and actually infinitely customizable, definitely by 2050, hopefully even by 2030,” she said. While the company is not completely zero-waste at this time, it has a commitment to eventually get there. In the meantime, it works with Blue Jeans Go Green to turn its cutting waste from from the jean making process into denim insulation for homes.  At this point, a pair of custom-fitted unspun jeans costs $200 — a price that not every person who wants to make more sustainable fashion choices can afford. That’s one reason why addressing the environmental impacts of the fashion industry will require multiple solutions to be at play at the same time.  Addressing the environmental impacts of the fashion industry will require multiple solutions to be at play at the same time. Making changes along the apparel supply chain At a different part of the supply chain, labeling and embellishment manufacturer Avery Dennison has a vision of the future: where every physical label on a garment will have a digital twin or ID that would tell the sustainability or end of life story of the piece of clothing. It also could help a consumer know what to do with the garment at its end of life, whether it can be resold, repaired or recycled. “That’s what really drives us, to be able to help enable that whole circularity of the industry,” said Debbie Shakespeare, senior director of compliance and sustainability at Avery Dennison. Right now, the fashion industry operates primarily in production and consumption, but avoids the decomposition part of the loop because of the perception that it will be wasteful, said Beth Rattner, executive director at the Biomimicry Institute, which provides sustainability advising to companies, including some in the world of fashion.  Of the total fiber input used for clothing, 87 percent is either landfilled or incinerated. But working in only the front part of the loop is only ignoring a waste problem that already exists, and is even getting worse. Of the total fiber input used for clothing, 87 percent is either landfilled or incinerated, according to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation , a think tank advancing the circular economy. Plus, there’s the waste that’s harder to see than the piles of fabric in a landfill. “We still have polyester that’s ending up in microfibers, which are ending up in the ocean, in our seafood dinner,” Rattner said. “We’re eating about a credit card worth of plastic every year.” The fashion industry must contend with its long history of operating unsustainably A recent report from the Biomimicry Institute called The Nature of Fashion  points out how the fashion industry has unsustainably operated as a collective for decades. “It’s safe to say that no one ever looked at a barrel of oil and thought, ‘That would make a nice-looking dress,'” the report’s forward reads. “And yet, for nearly 80 years, we have collectively looked past the ill-effects of petroleum and focused solely on the versatile, low price-point clothing that polyester makes possible.” It’s safe to say that no one ever looked at a barrel of oil and thought, “That would make a nice-looking dress.” The report argues that new fibers — no matter how recyclable they may be — should not be developed if there is no natural decomposition for them, because man-made material loops always leak into the environment . “The fashion industry now more than ever needs to look at materials in the larger context of natural systems,” Anita Chester, head of materials at Laudes Foundation, a partner for the report, said in a press release at the time of the report’s release. During the Circularity 20 session, Rattner gave attendees a vision and a call to action by telling them to imagine having a pantry of Twinkies in a pantry after deciding to be a healthy eater — likening them to the mounds of polyester sitting in our waste management system. Should you eat all those Twinkies first, and then go buy your kale? Should we keep using the same materials that we’ve been using? “We know that the Twinkies are bad for us,” she said “We don’t have to keep eating them, we can do something else with them. So my call to action is: we don’t have to eat the Twinkies.” Pull Quote Addressing the environmental impacts of the fashion industry will require multiple solutions to be at play at the same time. Of the total fiber input used for clothing, 87 percent is either landfilled or incinerated. It’s really hard to change our behavior, and even if we were able to do that, it’s not going to fix the problems in the system. It’s safe to say that no one ever looked at a barrel of oil and thought, “That would make a nice-looking dress.” Topics Circular Economy Fashion Circularity 20 Textile Waste Apparel Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) On Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off Shutterstock New Africa Close Authorship

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A closed loop fashion system requires scaling solutions now, not later

On Eastman’s mass balance protocol, transparency and keeping materials out of landfills

September 11, 2020 by  
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On Eastman’s mass balance protocol, transparency and keeping materials out of landfills Eastman wants to prove to the world that waste can be valuable. That’s according to Scott Ballard, vice president of specialty plastics at the company. “We believe the world has an urgent waste problem and like many others, we also believe a circular economy is the only reasonable solution,” Ballard said. “For that to happen, there’s a massive amount of change, innovation and collaboration that has to take place.” Heather Clancy, editorial director at GreenBiz, interviewed Scott Ballard, vice president of specialty plastics at Eastman, during Circularity 20, which took place on August 25-27, 2020. View archived videos from the conference here . Back in March, Joel Makower, GreenBiz executive editor, visited Eastman’s sprawling industrial site, covering roughly 900 acres in Kingsport, Tennessee. Read his story ‘Inside Eastman’s moonshot goal for endlessly circular plastics.’ Deonna Anderson Fri, 09/11/2020 – 16:41 Featured Off

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On Eastman’s mass balance protocol, transparency and keeping materials out of landfills

Accelerate at Circularity 20: Fast-Pitch Competition

September 9, 2020 by  
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Accelerate at Circularity 20: Fast-Pitch Competition At Circularity 20, GreenBiz’s online circular economy event, five startups presented their potentially world-altering ideas during the Accelerate competition. This GreenBiz tradition began in 2012 at its VERGE events, offering a venue where startups make a 2.5-minute pitch of their technology to the audience. During the event, the online audience voted on its favorite, and an expert panel of Taj Eldridge, senior director of investments at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), and Monique Mills, with the Startup Catalyst at the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Institute of Technology, offered thoughts on the startups and their potential. Speakers Taj Eldridge, senior director of investments at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) Monique Mills, head of the Startup Catalyst at the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Institute of Technology Shana Rappaport, Executive Director at GreenBiz Holly Secon Tue, 09/08/2020 – 20:35 Featured Off

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Accelerate at Circularity 20: Fast-Pitch Competition

Foundations of the Circular Economy

September 4, 2020 by  
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Foundations of the Circular Economy What are the basic building blocks of the circular economy, and how can they help drive opportunity and innovation across roles and sectors?   This session addresses the basics of the circular economy, from theory to action, from guiding principles to case studies spanning products, business models and system-level innovations. Much of the work in the circular economy to date has centered on deep analysis of the broader economic opportunity. This session translates the theory into practical opportunities for colleagues working in various functions within an organization and value chain.   Speakers Joe Murphy, Network Lead, Ellen MacArthur Foundation Michelle Tulac, New York City, Activation Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation   This session was held at GreenBiz Group’s Circularity 20, August 25-27, 2020. Learn more about the event here: https://events.greenbiz.com/events/circularity/online/2020   Watch our other must-see talks here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kDIkTxibMLM&list=PLyVZcHL_zmn6pie1MKrS3qJuXrLpTvgx9   OUR LINKS Website: https://www.greenbiz.com/ Twitter: https://twitter.com/greenbiz   LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/greenbiz-group   Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/greenbiz_group   Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GreenBiz Holly Secon Fri, 09/04/2020 – 16:57 Featured Off

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Foundations of the Circular Economy

Circular economy startups compete at Circularity 2020, taking on shoes to shelf-life

August 31, 2020 by  
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Circular economy startups compete at Circularity 2020, taking on shoes to shelf-life Holly Secon Mon, 08/31/2020 – 01:00 A circular economy is urgently required for the shift to a more sustainable planet. But it will take new, innovative ideas to build a global system that uses and reuses all of the resources within it and moves us away from the deeply entrenched extractive system under which the modern world functions. At Circularity 20, GreenBiz’s online circular economy event, five startups presented their potentially world-altering ideas during the Accelerate competition. This GreenBiz tradition began in 2012 at its VERGE events, offering a venue where startups make a 2.5-minute pitch of their technology to the audience. During last week’s event, the online audience voted on its favorite, and an expert panel of Taj Eldridge, senior director of investments at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), and Monique Mills, with the Startup Catalyst at the Advanced Technology Development Center at Georgia Institute of Technology, offered thoughts on the startups and their potential. Mills said that he considering new ideas, she looks to make sure that a startup will be able to establish itself and stay relevant in a changing business environment. “Our main focus is to make sure they’re able to become a sustainable business model, and one that can be supported into the future of how things will be done,” she said.  For Eldridge, one exciting thing about circular startups is that they’re working with communities that otherwise might not be thinking about environmental issues. “This is the opportunity to really get all the communities that have not been able to have the conversation about sustainability involved now,” he said. In order of presentation, here’s what the contenders had to offer. Borobabi Borobabi CEO Carolyn Butler took the virtual stage to pitch the sustainable children’s clothing rental startup. The early-stage company, based in New York, focuses on the $16 billion children’s clothing market, which, like the entire apparel space, suffers from a significant amount of waste. Children’s clothing, especially, often gets thrown away because children grow out of pants, shirts, shoes and other garments so quickly. Borobabi uses a circular model to serve as a platform where parents can rent clothes for children aged 0-6. The most unique feature is that the brand prices its clothes based on how durable they are. “We achieve true circularity by hitting on all three pillars of the circular economy. On the supply side, we only partner with ethical and sustainable brands who manufacture natural toxin-free clothing using organic agricultural practices, which regenerate natural systems,” Butler said. “We keep our products in circulation for as long as possible by renting only the highest-quality most durable items, ensuring they can be worn multiple times and retain like-new quality. Also, we helped design clothes with natural and monofibers that are recyclable. Our recycling partnerships are local here in the U.S. and help to keep our clothes out of landfills.” Infinity Goods The startup Infinity Goods has created a zero-waste grocery delivery service in Denver, Colorado, with plans to expand soon. CEO Ashwin Ramdas tried to go zero-waste — and then realized that he had to give up some of his favorite foods, such as ice cream and pasta, and lug around containers to stores every time he tried to shop. He realized that convenience and sacrifice was often a barrier, even for eco-conscious shoppers. So he founded Infinity Goods to connect those who want to go zero-waste but have found it too difficult. “It’s like the milkman, but now for a wide selection of food from fresh produce to tofu eggs pasta ice cream bread,” Ramdas explained. The company serves as a delivery service where groceries come in reusable containers, then get retrieved, cleaned and reused in future deliveries, cutting out the plastic packaging waste and relieving the customer of doing any work themselves. Infinity Goods has partnerships with local Colorado producers, which have agreed to reuse their packaging through the platform, fostering a local, waste-free circular economy. Salubata Salubata is a Nigerian startup that creates modular shoes from recycled plastic waste. The team of environmental scientists has figured out a way to knit together recycled plastic to create parts of a shoe that fit together — which then also can be taken apart at the end of life. The recycled plastic material also comes in different shapes and colors, which can be zipped into the same sole so consumers essentially can design their own low-carbon shoe. The global shoe market is valued at $264 billion per year, said CEO Fela Buyi. This product serves both shoe enthusiasts and eco-conscious shoppers. Mimica Mimica is a startup that aims to make the food system more sustainable with smart-design labels that extend the shelf life of fresh food. One major challenge for sustainable food systems is that there’s waste along every part of the food supply chain. Mimica’s labels are an intervention at the retail and consumer level to prevent edible food from being thrown out. “Expiration dates are set at the worst-case scenario, but the reality is that we keep our food much better than that. Dates are shortened to protect consumers in the rare case of problems in the supply chain or in our homes,” said Mimica CEO Solveiga Pakštait?. “And this actually hurts retailers’ bottom lines, because this hurts their ability to be able to sell produce in their stores. Add back just two days, and we can see food waste being cut in half in our stores, more than that in our homes, and sales go up when shelf life is extended. With products like juice and beef, the shelf life doubles.” The label, Mimica Touch, shows consumers exactly when food spoils. They just run their fingers over it, and if the label is smooth, the food is fresh. If it has bumps, it has spoiled. Resortecs Resortecs is a Belgium-based startup that provides a solution to the lack of apparel recycling. Only about 1 percent of garments are recycled — and one major reason is that garments aren’t designed to be recycled, because they have several components such as zippers or buttons that need to be separated. Resortecs has created a new material that can be used to sew together these components that breaks down at a high heat, allowing the components to separate easily and removing a major obstacle to reusing these parts. Plus, this heat-sensitive material only breaks down at extremely high temperatures, so it doesn’t affect the garment itself when people are wearing clothes.  “Garments made can be washed and ironed,” said Resortecs CEO Cédric Vanhoeck. “The material is not damaged in the process.” The audience voted on the online platform to ultimately select Mimica as the winner of this year’s Circularity Accelerate. Topics Circular Economy Innovation Circularity 20 Food Waste Fashion Food & Beverage Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off The Mimica label shows consumers exactly when food spoils. If there are bumps, the food has spoiled. Courtesy of Mimica Lab Close Authorship

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Circular economy startups compete at Circularity 2020, taking on shoes to shelf-life

Despite record oil price fluctuations, circular plastic strategies prevail

August 27, 2020 by  
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Despite record oil price fluctuations, circular plastic strategies prevail Jesse Klein Thu, 08/27/2020 – 01:45 The coronavirus pandemic threw almost every market into a tailspin, including the notoriously sensitive oil market. And when crude oil prices fell into negative territory in April, the recycled plastic industry experienced a reckoning. Would corporations still invest in relatively expensive circular plastic commitments if virgin plastic prices, closely tied to the petroleum industry, nosedived? So far, most big companies seem to be standing by their pledges. “Our strategy hasn’t changed,” Yolanda Malone, vice president of global foods packaging at PepsiCo, told a digital crowd at GreenBiz’s Circularity 20 event this week. “We aren’t letting the oil prices and the fluctuations in the market sway us from our long-term vision. Our strategy needs to be strong enough to weather it.” Shifting the focus away from everyday volatility and instead emphasizing the long-term benefits of an overarching and durable circular packaging plan can help brands avoid reacting to oil price dynamics and enable them to ignore the small short-term benefits — such as lower virgin plastic prices — in favor of long-lasting ones, according to Malone and other speakers who addressed the topic during the online event. We aren’t letting the oil prices and the fluctuations in the market sway us from our long-term vision. “One thing we did was to remind our associates and merchants that you can’t claim something is recyclable if it doesn’t actually get [turned into] recycled content,” Ashley Hall, lead for sustainable packaging at Walmart, said during the session. “That was a really important ah-ha moment for our clients and reaffirmed their commitment to get past these low prices and reassess moving forward.” But like good businesswomen, Malone and Hall are ready to adapt to a changing landscape, and the market volatility that occurred during the early days of the pandemic has prompted some soul-searching. According to Malone, her team is working on ways that ensuring Pepsi’s tactics can support a circular plastic initiative even amidst dropping oil prices — even if that means some tactics might need to change, such as shifting conversations away from cost savings associated with circular initiatives and instead turning the focus to consumer purchasing trends, the value of having a qualitative lifecycle assessment and the potential for refillable containers. Taylor Price, global manager of sustainability at packaging company Aptar, suggested that shifting to refillables rather than focusing almost exclusively on recycled content could be one way for companies to combat the effect of sinking oil prices on their packaging strategy.  “What we’ve seen as a packaging company is it’s not really an either/or,” she said. “Refillable solutions, for us, are really a co-strategy.”  Hall agreed that strategy diversification is important: “One solution won’t solve our issues. We need to work on all of them.” The consensus among the panelists was that a sustainable, circular packaging plan that includes a variety of levers to pull and different types of projects would be best suited to survive changing oil prices and other shifting market dynamics.  “Don’t reinvent the wheel,” Hall said. “Pull from existing resources. And on the other side, share not only what works but where you’ve had troubles. And by doing that you can help other people avoid making some mistakes that you [have] made along the way so we can all move forward.” Pull Quote We aren’t letting the oil prices and the fluctuations in the market sway us from our long-term vision. Topics Circular Economy Circularity 20 Circular Packaging Plastic Circularity 20 Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off As oil prices fall, recycled plastic initiatives have a new obstacle. //Unsplash

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Despite record oil price fluctuations, circular plastic strategies prevail

Accelerate at Circularity 19: Fast-Pitch Competition: r.cup

July 19, 2019 by  
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Accelerate at Circularity 19 is a fast-pitch competition featuring entrepreneurs with innovative technologies, products and services advancing a circular economy. r.cup’s Michael Martin pitches from the main stage.

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Accelerate at Circularity 19: Fast-Pitch Competition: r.cup

Accelerate at Circularity 19: Fast-Pitch Competition: GIBBON

July 17, 2019 by  
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Accelerate at Circularity 19 is a fast-pitch competition featuring entrepreneurs with innovative technologies, products and services advancing a circular economy. GIBBON’s Joanna Chen pitches from the main stage.

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Accelerate at Circularity 19: Fast-Pitch Competition: GIBBON

Accelerate at Circularity 19: Fast-Pitch Competition: Revolv

July 15, 2019 by  
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Accelerate at Circularity 19 is a fast-pitch competition featuring entrepreneurs with innovative technologies, products and services advancing a circular economy. Revolv’s Forrest Carroll pitches from the main stage.

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Accelerate at Circularity 19: Fast-Pitch Competition: Revolv

Accelerate at Circularity 19: Fast-Pitch Competition: LimeLoop

July 15, 2019 by  
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Accelerate at Circularity 19 is a fast-pitch competition featuring entrepreneurs with innovative technologies, products and services advancing a circular economy. Re-Nuble’s Tinia Pina pitches from the main stage.

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Accelerate at Circularity 19: Fast-Pitch Competition: LimeLoop

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