PPAI Magazine May 2024

A True Closed Loop When it comes to circularity, Everywhere Apparel sets a high bar. As CEO Irys Kornbluth explains, the recycled apparel company has managed to create a system that meets the ultimate definition of circularity. “Everywhere operates a closed loop model where all of our products are able to be returned to us for recycling,” she says. The average American throws out 80 pounds of clothing each year, according to Eco-Age, a sustainability consulting firm. Textile-to-textile recycling combats this by using textile waste to create new products. Kornbluth readily admits that the fully “closed loop model” that Everywhere operates under is not easy to establish given the ways things have been done in the industry for so long. “I’m not going to lie – recycling apparel today is very complex and challenging,” Kornbluth says. “We are building these systems from the ground up and battling a landscape where overproduction is rampant. We are also dealing with a world of materials that have not been designed with an end-of-life strategy and where blended fibers make things difficult to recycle.” Kornbluth adds, “I think the one thing I can say here is that creating a new material out of waste is very rewarding and we can hit the same level of quality as a virgin fiber product. It makes me very excited for the future.” Plan For Where Your Product Ends A product will eventually reach a point where it cannot be resold or repurposed. In such cases, waste mitigation remains an important part of the circular economy. The circular economy model acknowledges that creating a product inherently comes with the responsibility to recognize that it will come to the end of its useful life. At that end, a system must exist to collect, sort and recycle materials into new inputs to begin the cycle again. Boston Consulting Group, in its examination of end-of-life recycling in the garment industry, identifies common challenges producers of any product faces in completing the circle, from collecting and sourcing processes to recycling at scale. For promo, it’s a problem ripe for collaboration and cooperation within the industry to find solutions. “By creating ecosystems for resale, brands can drive profits through products they have already invested in making,” Kornbluth says. “Resale is an important part of extending a product’s life cycle; however, it is just a piece of the puzzle. We also need real end-of-life recycling systems for apparel that cannot be resold.” Collect and sort Process recycled textiles Cycle new textile into products The average American throws out 80 pounds of clothing each year. Visual Generation / Shutterstock.com Circular Economy | Must Read PPAI • MAY 2024 • 67