Circularity: if you measure it, you value it!

Ecology and Environment

The circularity of textile production is now a topic of strong interest and constant discussion, and it involves all the supply chain players, including final consumers. The efforts of industrial research and innovation and the economic investments required for the implementation of circular models must be measured and rewarded with a real recognition by the market of the value of the actions taken.

Originally discussed only by technicians, today circularity is a common topic that everyone is talking about. The final consumers themselves, who by definition are not technicians, have developed a sensitivity and sometimes even a competence that has prompted the producers to make a significant and credible commitment to become circular and environmentally sustainable. Insiders, both of research and industrial world, develop and validate concrete approaches to the circularity and sustainability of products, processes, and companies. Working groups, scientific communities, publications, congresses, and conferences are the direct evidence of the interest and the real desire to know, deepen, and share the needs and then the solutions that are available today to reach a real sustainability.

 

A recent initiative of the European Technology Platform for the Future of Textiles and Clothing (Textile ETP) launched the new European Masterclass Innovation in Circular and Biobased Textiles, organized with the collaboration of four European institutes (Centrocot, Centexbel, STFI e RISE). The masterclass aims to deepen the knowledge of the latest innovation for circular and biobased textiles, with a comprehensive approach on materials and processes, market and regulatory trends, projects, technologies, and strategies. The masterclass events bring testimonies of experts coming from the industrial, institutional and academic world, thus presenting different points of view of what is, however, common evidence: sustainability also passes through biobased and circularity.

 

In the first meetings it emerged, among other things, how important it is to be able to measure the actual circularity of a specific aspect. For years now, in the context of sustainability, the Life Cycle Assessment approach has been known, a tool aimed at measuring the environmental impacts related to a process or the creation of a product. To this were then added the analogous tools for measuring economic impacts (LCC, Life Cycle Cost) and social impacts (S-LCA, Social Life Cycle Assessment). Originally, and indeed until recently, this kind of tools required high technical skills and considerable economic investments to be used correctly, often requiring companies to rely on external professionals. But the continuous demand for sustainability measurement by stakeholders has led to the creation of tools that may be easier to approach. These new instruments are not limited to the assessment of environmental, economic, and social impacts but are now able to quantify the circularity of a product, service, process, or company. These new and more accessible tools for measuring circularity can have a double value: on the one hand, they make the actual demonstration of the circularity level achieved by a specific actor more immediate and simple, thus recognizing and enhancing its commitment to sustainability; on the other hand, they can incentivize new subjects to implement a circular model, as they are aware of the fact that there are relatively accessible ways to measure and enhance it.

 

There are several tools for the sustainability and circularity measurement and new ones are always being added. Among those available, some can be mentioned such as STeP by OEKO TEX®, an independent certification system to communicate, in a transparent and credible way, the path towards more sustainable production conditions; CIRCULYTICS (Ellen MacArthur Foundation) for the overall measurement of corporate circularity; CIRCULAR TRANSITION INDICATORS (World Business Council for Sustainable Development) for the measurement of circularity at the organization level and the CHECK UP TOOL (Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna di Pisa, Ergo Srl, Università Bocconi) for the measurement of production chain circularity.

 

For more info, please contact:

  • Omar Maschi, PhD

Multisectoral Research and Innovation

e-mail: omar.maschi@centrocot.it

Author: Omar Maschi

Multisectoral Research and Innovation Dept.