According to the motto “waste not, want not,” Danish fashion group Bestseller A/S is supporting two projects that are meant to accelerate its move to a more circular business model. One is about using the company’s own cutting waste and the other about creating recycling yarns. For both projects, Bestseller collaborates with suppliers in Bangladesh through its experimental sustainability hub Fashion Forward Lab because this is where a significant part of the group’s total garment production takes place.
An estimated 400,000 tonnes of production waste is generated in Bangladesh each year, but less than five per cent of this is currently recycled domestically. The Bestseller Group has therefore launched a long-standing project for its Selected, Name It and Vero Moda brands and will work with GMS Composite Knitting, its largest jersey supplier in Bangladesh, to use textile scraps in new collections. The first such collections are expected to be available in spring 2022.
Major supplier in Bangladesh to use Bestseller’s own cutting waste
“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 at Bestseller, in a press release.
To avoid shipping the textile waste back and forth and to thus be easier on the environment, Bestseller wants to keep it in the country where it is produced. “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,” explains Skjønning Jørgensen.
Developing recycling yarns together with Cyclo
To develop desirable new recycled yarns, Bestseller is collaborating with Bangladeshi recycled cotton fibre firm Cyclo whose mission is 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 Cyclo founder and director Mustafain Munir.
Bestseller wants to become “circular by design”
The company has already successfully made a variety of final products, which could not have been managed without brand and fibre collaborations as Munir explains: “Collaborations have been key to our success. Bestseller 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.”
While the collaboration with Cyclo and GMS Composite Knitting focuses on utilising waste immediately and implementing it directly in future collections, Bestseller joined the Global Fashion Agenda’s Circular Fashion Partnerships (CFP) already in its initial phase to work on a more structural level as well. The end goal is to succeed in implementing effective waste stream structures and to become “circular by design”.