Full circularity: 2050

100% circular by 2050: a time when there is dignity, equity and equality. A time when our shared textiles resources, in the form of products and raw materials, are kept in continual circulation. Virgin resources are no longer needed.

We are here to explore the realities of a fully circular future and what we need to do to get there. But this future is yet to take shape. Through dedication, innovation, infrastructure and collectivism, a circular system can operate and thrive.

Full circularity: 2050

Join us on a journey from the early 2000s up until 2050. Read the contributions from circularity aficionados, from cross-industry experts.

This is our time capsule, our directory of information and insight into the steps we must take to achieve circularity.

Roadmap to 2050

We have imagined a Circular Textiles 2050 in three distinct phases.

Phase 1: the innovation and R&D years (2010-2025)

Phase 2: the infrastructure and rollout years (2025-2040)

Phase 3: the expansion and completion years (2040-2050)

Three strands to the vision

It is 2050.  Full systems change has taken place. This wouldn’t have been possible without the immediate action and radical steps taken from 2020 onwards. Many targets had to be identified in the early 2020s and achieved by 2030 to ensure that the 2050 goal happened in full. A sense of urgency, turbo stakeholder collaboration, supportive government regulation and clear, data driven targets enabled the mindsets and systems change needed to transform to a fully circular textiles ecosystem.

A circular economics model underpins what we have created. It reflects and supports a living organism made up of makers, users and restorers, interacting across vibrant and interconnected networks. Checks and balances, alongside transparency and accountability, ensure a healthy system. Financial, environmental, and social metrics have the purpose of serving communities and the planet. There is shared ownership of profit and loss – across all three metrics – throughout the value chain.

This is what we’ve achieved over the last 30 years..

1. Materials and planetary boundaries

VISION: Materials are renewable, recyclable and safe, kept in continual circulation.

Imagine a time when the raw materials that are used to make things are sourced from existing products and regenerative agriculture, via carbon negative and climate neutral processes. Biodegradable raw materials are used for products with biodegradable end routes. Toxic chemicals have been washed out of the global materials pool, disposed of safely and replaced with beneficial alternatives. Virgin fibres made from fossil fuels have been banned, while secondary synthetic fibres, derived from what was already in the system, are kept in constant circulation as a resource. Circularity accounting methods, built on science-based metrics, help to manage a balanced system of resources, across all industries, and in line with the planet’s environmental limits.

2. Products and Services

VISION: Products and services are designed for multiple use and material value retention, with maximum positive impact.

Imagine a time when products flow via optimal collection and distribution streams into reusable and repairable product platforms. Reuse and access models are dominant, and products are designed for multiple recirculation before biodegrading (if designed to do so), or being broken down into reusable raw materials for production. People only consume what they need. Production and consumption wastes have been fully eliminated and multifunctional, season-less and timeless fashions are the norm, yet still fulfil our human need for expression and creativity without constraint. All business models, organisations, governments and citizens play a role in maintaining a healthy, functioning circular ecosystem.

3. People and Society

VISION: People are valued and supported in an equitable, socially just and resilient society.

Imagine a time when people and communities are at the heart of any sustainable and circular system. The planet thrives, enabling us to survive with balance and abundance. People are no longer passive consumers, but proactive participants. The ‘makers’ who design, build, reprocess and recirculate products throughout the value chain are treated equally and are equitable partners in shaping and benefitting from the system. Textiles/garments can be produced and repurposed locally as well as centrally. A blend of craft methods alongside more automated production provides regionalised, multi-faceted perspectives and fulfilling livelihoods, be they high- or low-tech. Wealth gaps are minimised and dignity, equity, equality is a reality for all.

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