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WCTD: Centre for Circular Design co-hosts UN roundtable with fashion industry pioneers

Medium shot of people sitting at rows of tables on each side with Becky Early stan
  • Written byAnnika Loebig
  • Published date 10 November 2022
Medium shot of people sitting at rows of tables on each side with Becky Early stan
Professor Becky Earley at WCTD's UN roundtable in New York with participants, 2022 | Photography: Lisa Kato

Since co-founding the initiative in 2020, UAL’s Centre for Circular Design (CCD) has been hosting the annual World Circular Textiles Day (WCTD) to acknowledge the progress the fashion and textiles industry has made towards achieving textiles circularity by 2050.

In the last 2 years over 160 signatories have joined the initiative, including global groups Kering, H&M, GAP, Eileen Fisher and Veolia.

This year’s WCTD reached new heights: On 7 October, a day before WCTD, Becky Earley from CCD and other co-founders of WCTD hosted a hybrid event at the Conduit in London with a live link to partners in New York to exchange circularity stories and innovations from WCTD’s Knowledge Hub, the world’s largest digital archive of circular textiles case studies.

People socialising with drinks in their hand
Participants socialising at the Conduit after WCTD's event | Photography: Annika Loebig

To mark the third WCTD, representatives from the co-founding organisations of WCTD, including Centre for Circular Design and Worn Again Technologies with Circle Economy joining online, met in New York to host a Circular Textiles Roundtable with key stakeholders from across the circularity landscape, from collectors to brands, retailers, industry associations and policy makers.

The event was supported by Lenzing Fibers and hosted in collaboration with the United Nations Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network, involving representatives from a variety of key fashion stakeholders such as Bank & Vogue, the British Fashion Council, the Fashion Impact Fund and more.

The purpose of the workshop was to create a textiles circularity roadmap to 2050 that identifies the key milestones for transitioning to a model where products and materials are kept in continual circulation and replace the use of virgin materials. A crucial priority of this model is to ensure industry workers are supported in equitable, socially just and resilient societies.

Witnessing leaders across the textile industry come together at the United Nations to engage in collaborative exercises and conversations on circularity, in itself, shows the urgency and need to work together to set up systems and guidelines to achieve this common goal.

— Tori Piscatelli, Regional Marketing Manager at Lenzing Fibers

During an ambitious and fast paced 2-hour session, 27 participants produced key milestones for change over the next 3 decades, which covered themes of

  • Materials and Planetary boundaries
  • Products and Services
  • People and Society

The roadmap template will be released in the coming months and used as a foundation for integrating existing industry circularity and decarbonisation commitments, as well as for setting a longer-term framework across a range of topics including transparency, traceability, social metrics, legislation, design, circular materials and products and services.

“The scale of change required to transition to a fully circular textiles industry is immense but can be broken down into bite sized and achievable phases and delivery plans,” Cyndi Rhoades, founder of Worn Again Technologies and co-founder of WCTD, says.

“Designing and aligning circular strategies for implementation and action across the industry today is crucial for achieving future goals and delivering beneficial outcomes for society, economics, and the environment in equal measures. Convening these committed industry leaders to evolve collective knowledge and strengthen relationships is a crucial step in fast-tracking necessary change.”

WCTD’s next steps will be to build a plan with a hierarchy of urgent actions to achieve full textiles circularity by 2050, with the aim to build an online gigamap which would make this available for other signatories to collaborate on.

“Making textiles circular will have a significant effect on global carbon emissions, in several key areas. It is an ambitious goal, and a complex challenge,” Becky, co-founder of WCTD and UAL’s Centre for Circular Design, says.

“It will require huge levels of collaboration and co-operation. We all need to get better at this. UAL research has the potential to support the transition in many ways. I am looking forward to leading the charge!”


WCTD 2022: All you need to know

About

World Circular Textiles Day is an annual event which acknowledges the progress the fashion and textiles industry has made towards achieving textiles circularity by 2050.

It was co-founded by Becky Earley (Centre for Circular Design, UAL); Kate Goldsworthy (Centre for Circular Design, UAL); Gwen Cunningham (Circle Economy); and Cyndi Rhoades (Worn Again Technologies).

This year’s WCTD UN roundtable was supported by Lenzing Fibers and hosted in collaboration with the United Nations Conscious Fashion and Lifestyle Network.

Signatories

In the last 2 years over 160 signatories have joined the initiative, including the British Fashion Council, H&M Group, the Sustainable Fashion Academy, Reformation, Kering, Oxfam and more.

Key attendees (2022)

Alongside the 5 virtual attendees, some of the 22 representatives from across the fashion and textiles circularity industry who were able to attend the UN roundtable in person included:

  • Steven Bethell, Founder, Bank & Vogue, BVH Services Beyond Retro
  • Tricia Carey, Director of Business Development - Americas and Denim, Lenzing Fiber
  • Caroline Rush, CEO, British Fashion Council
  • Kerry Bannigan, Executive Director, Fashion Impact Fund
  • Tori Piscatelli, Regional Marketing Manager, Lenzing Fibers

Roadmap to textiles circularity by 2050

The textiles circularity roadmap to 2050 identifies key milestones and activities that will accelerate circularity momentum while supporting the industry in reaching its climate targets and delivering against multiple UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The roadmap template will be released in the coming months.