Circularity Goals of Some Fast Fashion Brands

Fast fashion companies generate 92 million tons of textile waste globally annually, which is expected to rise to 134 million tons by 2030. This is due to chemical and toxic dyes on synthetic materials such as polyester, which are hazardous to our health and require 9 trillion liters of water each year for dyeing and manufacturing fast fashion. As consumers, the more we buy and waste, the more we contribute to climate change.


For decades, H&M has operated in a linear fashion analogy – take, make, and waste. They’ve been committed to fashion criteria that use resources responsibly.

“Our approach aligns with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation (EMF) definition of a circular economy, which focuses on three key principles: Eliminate waste and pollution, Circulating products and materials with the highest value, nature regeneration.”

Pascal Brun, Head of Sustainability at H&M

After the announcement of H&M Corporation about the circular economy and climate-positive ambitions, intending to implement a circular economy throughout its business – the organization aspired to build a roadmap for a ‘cyclic ecosystem.’ This roadmap is subject to climate and biodiversity. H&M Group’s ‘circular ecosystem’ development strategy is based on the following three pillars:

  1. Circular products: Creating products made to last from safe, recycled and more sustainably sourced materials (i.e., naturally grown, cultivated, or created using renewable processes) that can recirculate multiple times.
  2. Circular supply chains: Fueling systems that recirculate products and support circular production processes and material flows.
  3. Circular customer journeys: Providing accessible ways to experience and engage in a circular fashion where products are used more, repaired, reused, and recycled.

“At H&M Group, we’re testing circular models through various initiatives such as COS Resell, a digital space for buying and selling pre-owned items. But the exciting part is scaling these business models and decoupling business growth from resource use. By 2030, these initiatives won’t just be scattered, sporadic initiatives. They’ll become interconnected initiatives that form the core of our business.”

Vanessa Rothschild, H&M Group’s global sustainability steering and development manager


“Shein Exchange aims to ‘make resale as easy and convenient’ as buying something new while activating a rotation culture. We are calling on the community to step up and keep used clothing in circulation for as long as possible, By tapping into the reach and influence of our growing community, we believe repurchasing could become the new normal in our industry”.

Adam Whinston, global head of ESG at Shein

SHEIN, a global e-retailer of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle products, and Queen of Raw, a global circular economy technology company whose flagship software, Materia MX, solves supply chain excess inventory issues for Fortune 500 companies, announced a collaboration to help SHEIN become a leading rescuer of high-quality deadstock materials. The company will develop a circular business model that reduces textile waste and raw material consumption by repurposing excess inventory from other brands.

SHEIN uses Materia MX, Queen of Raw’s proprietary software, to source materials from brands and retailers looking to responsibly dispose of their fabric inventory and warehouse instead of dumping them in landfills. Queen of Raw’s impact measurement algorithms, developed with support from MIT Innovative Future Solutions, show that removing 1 million yards of fabric from excess inventory would put SHEIN on track to become a global leader in cladding material reuse, saving water and preventing conventional manufacturing methods from generating carbon dioxide equivalents.

The partnership with Queen of Raw contributes to SHEIN’s newly established sustainability roadmap, evoluSHEIN. This overarching framework, comprised of three key pillars – equitable empowerment, collective resilience, and waste-less innovation – builds on and further guides the company’s sustainability journey by addressing the most critical social and environmental challenges facing the fashion industry today.


Zara’s new collection with Circ, made from recycled textile waste, could revolutionize the industry.

Four lightweight women’s suits in lyocell or polyester, made from polyester-cotton textile scraps, are part of the collection. This is a significant advancement because blended fibers like polyester-cotton have been virtually impossible to recycle, impeding the industry’s goals for a circular economy. Circ claims that it can separate polyester from cotton and transform both into new textiles.

Zara’s lyocell clothing is $69.90 per piece and is made with 50 percent recycled cotton yarn that Circ separates from poly-cotton waste and converts into lyocell-like cellulose. The remaining 50% of the garment material is traditional lyocell. Polyester clothing is made with 43% recycled yarn, similar to the polyester yarn that Circ separates from poly-cotton and 57% regular polyester.

ZARA has expressed a roadmap towards their circularity goals for the next 17 years.

2022ZARA pre-owned 50% join the life collection 100% renewable electrical energy in operations
2023More sustainable 100% artificial cellulosic fibers and cotton 100% redesigned packaging to facilitate its reuse and recycling 100% elimination of single-use plastics for customers 100% of waste from own facilities is collected and processed for reuse or recycling
2025More sustainable 100% linen and more sustainable or recycled polyester 25% reduction of water impact in the supply chain 50% reduction of virgin plastic in own facilities as per commitment with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation
2040Zero net emissions
Table: ZARA’s roadmap towards circularity

Levi’s and Strauss Co

Within the ‘Consumption’ segment, Levi’s stated that it wants to either increase or introduce resale and upcycling initiatives to be circular-ready by 2026, which it will measure against the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s Make Fashion Circular Framework.

Levi’s will launch a more circular iteration of its 501 Original jeans as part of its ongoing partnership with Swedish sustainable technology company Renewcell. The new 501 jeans will be made with Renewcell’s Circulose fiber, a sustainably sourced viscose made in part from recycled denim and organic cotton. It is also designed to be fully recyclable. The new material mix will mean that the jeans use far fewer natural resources and fewer chemicals to produce, aligning with Levi’s broader strategy for resource conservation across its products’ life cycles and commitments to embrace circularity.

Levi’s: Designed For a Circular Economy

Under the Circularity Consumption pillar, the firm intends to:

  1. Increase resale and upcycling initiatives to extend product life by 2025
  2. Ensure zero-waste-to-landfill from its company-operated facilities and 50% diversion of waste across strategic suppliers by 2030
  3. Eliminate single-use plastics in consumer-facing packaging by using 100% reusable, recyclable or home-compostable plastics by 2030
  4. 100% certified screened chemistry at garment wet finishing manufacturing and fabric mills by 2026
  5. Use of third-party preferred or certified more sustainable primary materials by 2030
  6. Reduce supply chain GHG emissions by 40% by 2025
  7. Reduce GHG emissions by 90% at its company-operated facilities and use 100% renewable electricity across those facilities by 2025
  8. Achieve net-zero emissions by 2050
  9. Reduce the use of freshwater in manufacturing processes by 50% in areas with high water stress by 2025
  10. Evaluate and identify material impacts and dependencies on nature across the value chain.

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