Material Exchange

Sustainability scoop #6
June 2023 | Sustainability Bulletin No.6

Happy June everyone!

Sunny, warm days have finally arrived for those of us in the northern hemisphere, serving as a seasonal reminder of the cyclical nature of our world. Just as nature cycles through these various stages of circularity, so too can the fashion industry. It may not come quite as automatically, but where there’s a will, there’s a way – and major fashion initiatives of late are showing us that the will is there. As for the way: it’s currently under development.

Like all new stages, we must experiment and share our findings so we can grow and improve together. Circularity in fashion is undergoing a breakthrough – are you with us? Keep reading to learn more.

Yours in sustainability,
The Material Exchange Sustainability Team

Coachtopia: A case for circularity

Coachtopia - A case for circularity
It’s becoming increasingly obvious that the traditional fashion supply chain is problematic, but did you know?
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The majority of fashion’s greenhouse gas emissions occur at tier one, or raw material extraction.

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87% of what is produced will end up going into a landfill or being incinerated.

At the NYC Fair Trade Coalition x Kent State Sustainable Design and Merchandising Forum, Tara Maurice, Circularity Lead at Coachtopia, a new circular sub-brand of Coach, explained that the greatest impacts of a product occur at the beginning and end of the linear supply chain. So, how do we reduce these impacts? “Get rid of the start and finish by turning the line into a circle”, says Maurice.

By moving to a circular supply chain, we can more effectively remove the start (raw material extraction), and end (disposal). Coachtopia, is working to do just that. Maurice shared some steps to circularity, and how Coachtopia is working toward each to reduce the impacts of the linear model:

1. Minimize virgin raw materials used in a product. Coachtopia is currently creating handbags with recycled leather made from pre-consumer waste and scrap created in the production process.  

2. Make to remake, or design for disassembly. Coachtopia is working toward this by making bags that are designed to efficiently and easily be disassembled to convert into new products. 

3. Define circular pathways. Coachtopia adds an NFC chip inside each bag, which contains the necessary information about materials and design details to allow for disassembly, reuse, and reimagining when it is ultimately returned by the customer.

Circularity is a critical shift in supply chain operations – and the shift has already begun! Every decision we make, big or small, about the products we produce and how we produce them can move us toward a circular model. It won’t happen overnight, but Coach is showing us that small steps can make big changes. Thank you, Tara, for your insights and thank you, Coachtopia, for being pioneers in circularity!  

Back from the dead(stock)

Back from the dead(stock)

You wouldn’t throw away the eggs leftover in your carton after making a batch of pancakes; wasting something perfectly useful seems senseless. So why is it that 92 million tonnes of perfectly useful fabric will be discarded or incinerated this year? In a recent blog post, Bringing deadstock back to life, we explore how selling – instead of destroying – deadstock can alleviate the issue of waste, turn losses into gains, and provide quick turnarounds. Interested in sourcing or selling deadstock?

Words from our Advisory Board member

Ngaire Takano

We recently had a chat with Ngaire Takano, Traceability, Circular Sourcing and ESG Manager and member of Material Exchange’s Sourcing Expert Team (SET). Ngaire has expertise in traceability, transparency, and factory auditing with buying, sourcing, and procurement experience across industries – from textiles to food – and has worked on multiple circular projects. That said, we were excited to hear her thoughts on circularity!

Any insights on how textiles and fashion can work toward using less virgin materials?

Whether the materials being used are virgin or reused, it’s important to look at the fiber they’re made up of.

What’s key:

  • Reduce the amount of clothing we produce and use only what’s really needed (not what we think is needed).
  • Focus on regenerative farming and processing.
  • Use single or mono fabrics, which are easier to strip down and reuse.
  • Focus on natural fibers.

How do you feel fashion is working and can continue to work on circularity?

Stop having an island mentality and begin to collaborate! Co-share suppliers by utilizing group buying, give back to your suppliers – not just by paying on time, but by investing in them. Most importantly, be honest with your suppliers, understand the true origins of your materials, question and take action, and work towards transparency and traceability.  Remember if you take, to replenish two fold.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Be honest, consider if a product is needed before producing, look at quality, bring back repairs, highlight the suppliers in your supply chain, and work with others!  Fashion has a conscience, fabric has a soul.

A big thank you for your insights, Ngaire! Want to hear more? 

Connect with Ngaire here.

Sustainability Snapshot

Get inspired! The Sustainability Scoop is introducing a new section to our issues: the Sustainability Snapshot. Here, we’ll highlight innovative steps the industry is taking toward a sustainable future for the planet and its people.

We're keen on the Green Paper Series!

An imperative step in working toward a circular economy is detoxification, or phasing out harmful chemicals. This includes PFAS, which are harmful “forever” chemicals that either degrade very slowly, or not at all. PFAS pose risks to the planet and its people, including health risks like cancer.

Outdoor footwear company Keen is doing its part by ensuring their supply chain is free from PFAS, and are inviting other companies to do the same! They’ve recently released version 2.0 of their guidebook, The Road to PFAS Free Green Paper Series, in which they share steps to phasing out these forever chemicals. This includes alternatives to PFAS such as Rudolph Chemie EcoPlus, which is made from non-food, plant-based dendritic compounds.

the green paper series

Cheers to Keen for sharing the steps to removing PFAS from our supply chains! Open industry collaboration is needed to propel change, to detoxify, and to work toward a cleaner, more circular economy. Together we will go far!

Major players take a shot at sustainability

Major players take a shot at sustainability

When you’re on the edge of your seat watching your favorite team play, you’re probably not thinking about sustainability. However, the sports world has a huge part to play. In our latest blog post, we take a look at the impact that sports uniforms have on the environment, and the steps industry leaders are taking to ensure we can continue to enjoy the games we love for years to come.

Join us at these upcoming events!

Texworld GFS

Texworld NYC
July 18-20, 2023
Javits Center

Kingpins Show NYC
July 19-20, 2023
Pier 36 / Basketball City

Munich Fabric Start

Munich Fabric Start
July 18-20, 2023
Munich, Germany

Thanks for reading! Now let’s get circularity into the limelight 🌎

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