New report breaks the myth of fast fashion's so-called 'circular economy' - Greenpeace

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Press release - 18 September, 2017

Milan, 18 September 2017 – At the opening of Milan Fashion Week today, Greenpeace Italy is hosting a debate with representatives of small and medium-sized fashion companies from different parts of Europe who are taking steps towards “slowing fashion”. “Slowing fashion” is a model that does not compromise on ethical, social and environmental values and involves customers, rather than encouraging them to over-consume ever-changing trends.

Greenpeace’s new report, “Fashion at the crossroads”, presented today in Milan, shows examples of “slowing the loop” solutions as alternatives to the current material-intensive business model. For the first time ever, an open database of nearly 400 entries, put together under a coherent framework, will help design more sustainable scenarios for the fashion industry. [1]

“A ‘circular economy’ is the latest meme being used across the EU and worldwide, but behind this nice phrase lies the industry’s fantasy that circularity can fix a material-intensive system; selling the promises of 100% recyclability which is unlikely to come true,” said Chiara Campione, Greenpeace Italy Senior Corporate Strategist.

Greenpeace warns that an effective six year-long effort to reduce hazardous chemicals from the textile global supply could be ruined by a premature ‘circular economy’ where recycling happens before detoxing processes and materials occur, while the overall growing intensity of production continues to pose a serious threat to the environment.

“Our aim is to provide a critical response to the premature and incomplete ‘circular economy’ promoted by large global brands. The Pulse report, recently presented at the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, envisions a so-called ‘circular’ future for the sector that would rely even more on environmentally harmful polyester and still seeks growth in material output without questioning the overproduction, overconsumption and the subsequent decrease in the quality and longevity of our clothes,” Campione said.

“Slowing the flow of materials - and detoxing - is the prerequisite to closing the loop,” said Campione. “Today we have given the floor to some pioneers of this vision who are engaged in five essential areas of intervention: design for longevity, design for reduced impacts, design for recycling, end-of-life systems and alternative business models”.

Representatives from Vaude, Nudie Jeans, Consorzio Italiano Detox, Orange Fiber, L’Herbe Rouge and Kleiderei have been the speakers at today’s podium debate but the field is open to innovations from any company that wants to extend the lifespan of clothing through quality, design, mindset change and repair services and in general offer new alternative business models. In the meantime, Greenpeace calls on public authorities to adopt policies for producer responsibility which require mandatory take-back, preventing disposal and rewarding design improvements.

[ENDS]

Notes for Editors

[1] The report, published Greenpeace Germany, can be accessed here. The overview is available here.

[2] With its Detox campaign, Greenpeace has been fighting successfully for a cleaner textile industry, committing 80 global textile brands and suppliers to ban hazardous chemicals from their supply chain by 2020. However, to protect our planet and our health around the globe we need to go a step further. We need to change the way we consume clothing and tackle consumption habits, unsustainable lifestyles and seek for happiness in places other than shopping malls.

Media contacts:

Gabriele Salari, Greenpeace Italy, +39 342 5532207

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