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BESTSELLER Group is piloting two major circularity projects, and one of them supports utilisation of its own textile cutting scraps, creating a valuable closed-loop system in a fully transparent supply chain.

Textile waste is most often shipped back and forth in the process of becoming new recycled yarn and fabrics. In order to avoid just another negative environmental impact, BESTSELLER’s ambitious sustainability platform Fashion FWD Lab is piloting two different circularity projects in Bangladesh.

The novelty lies in keeping the waste in sight.

“We’re working locally in Bangladesh with one of our big, longstanding suppliers to ensure our production waste is used within a closed-loop system in a fully transparent supply chain. In short, this means we are collecting and recycling our own brands’ cutting waste into new styles,” says Camilla Skjønning Jørgensen, Sustainable Materials & Innovation Manager, BESTSELLER.

Cotton is ideal for circular projects and Bangladesh was an obvious location. A significant amount of BESTSELLER’s overall production is based in Bangladesh, with a particular emphasis on cotton, so Fashion FWD Lab has teamed up with GMS Composite Knitting, BESTSELLER’s biggest jersey supplier in the country.

“We want to explore how we can keep the cotton waste in Bangladesh and set up workable circularity systems there. Keeping the waste in Bangladesh, even with the same supplier, benefits both economic and environmental perspectives, which we value immensely,” says Camilla.

On a mission to reclaim textile waste

To develop the desirable new recycled yarns, BESTSELLER collaborates with CYCLO – a Bangladeshi recycled cotton fibre firm on a mission to responsibly recycle the hundreds of tonnes of cotton fabric discarded daily as cutting waste. By eliminating the dyeing process, CYCLO’s mechanical recycling process greatly reduces the amount of water, energy, chemicals, and carbon emissions.

“Mechanically recycling fabric scraps to make fibre has been around a long time. However, this fibre has traditionally been downcycled and the resulting yarn written off as too ‘low quality’ for the fashion industry. Our goal was to prove to the world that there is a tremendous opportunity to upcycle these fibres back into fashion,“ says Mustafain Munir, founder and Director, CYCLO.

Already successful in making a variety of final products, these could not have been managed without brand and fibre collaborations, Mustafain explains:

“Collaborations have been key to our success. BESTELLER has been at the forefront of sustainability efforts for some time now and we like working with companies, which are genuinely interested and active in both the environmental and economics.”

Implementing effective structures

Recently, Global Fashion Agenda launched the Circular Fashion Partnerships (CFP), an initiative that BESTSELLER joined in its initial phase. While the collaboration with CYCLO and GMS focuses on utilising waste immediately and implementing it directly in future collections, CFP works on a more structural level. With an end goal to succeed in implementing effective waste stream structures, the CFP works as a natural extension of BESTSELLER’s current efforts.

“The alignment of ambitions and actions makes this project a great match for BESTSELLER, as we need to make sure that waste is regarded as a valuable resource for brands and suppliers,” says Camilla with a closing remark:

“Our ultimate ambition is to become circular by design. So far, the fashion industry has lacked the scalability possibilities and the innovations to reach those goals, but at BESTSELLER we’re working hard and investing heavily to get there as soon as possible.”

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Collaborations & Partnerships

From discarded textiles to circular business models

BESTSELLER’s experimental sustainability hub ‘Fashion FWD Lab’ focuses on new low-impact circular materials and circular business models, as well as innovative production technologies. In order to reach the overall ambition of becoming circular by design, industry collaboration is key, and Bangladesh is a clear-cut example: the estimated amount of production waste in Bangladesh is 400,000 tonnes – per year. At present, Bangladesh recycles less than five percent domestically.

Acting as a catalyst for collaborations – both externally and internally – a crucial part of the lab is to involve BESTSELLER’s many brands in these projects. So far, BESTSELLER brands SELECTED, NAME IT and VERO MODA are approved for participation in the long-standing project.

The first collections made of BESTSELLER’s own waste will be ready in Spring 2022.

Read more about Fashion FWD Lab