Photo: Accelerating Circularity

Photo: Accelerating Circularity


New Group to Map Where Millions of Tons of Textile Waste Goes

A new sustainability initiative, Accelerating Circularity, announced that it is working with major apparel companies such as Gap Inc., Target Corp. and VF Corp. to chart ways to eliminate textile-industry waste and recycle it into new fibers and materials, according to a Feb. 25 announcement.

Accelerating Circularity’s mission will be to research and identify opportunities in apparel supply chains in order to make them circular, which means taking returned goods and items defined as waste materials and turning them into new textiles, Karla Magruder, the group’s lead, said.

“If we’re going to have circularity, textile waste will be the new raw material. We’re going to have to find out how to get from point A to point B,” Magruder said. ”Less than 1 percent of textile waste gets recycled into new textiles. It’s nothing.”

In 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 16.9 million tons of textile waste is dumped annually. “There needs to be new maps for the supply chain that don’t exist today. We need to create the knowledge of where the textile waste is, how we should collect it and where we need to feed it to the appropriate recyclers,” Magruder said.

Accelerating Circularity’s first projects will include research into mechanical and chemical recycling of cotton, viscose and polyester textile waste. These three fibers comprise more than 80 percent of all textile fiber production, according to a statement from the group. The group’s first report will be posted in late April on its website,

Accelerating Circularity was created in part from a grant from the Walmart Foundation. Board members include Beth Jensen, director of sustainable materials and products at VF Corp.; Tricia Carey of the fiber giant Lenzing Group; Laila Petrie, chief executive officer of 2050 and who also worked on the fashion-industry charter for climate action for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change; and Alice Hartley, Gap Inc.’s senior manager of sustainable innovation.