Circular Economy in the Textile Industry: What You Need to Know to Plan Ahead?

Circular economy

A circular economy is one of the themes related to sustainability in the textile industry.

The concept involves the integration of activities to utilize resources that enable the practice of reusing raw materials and recycling, in order to improve the impact and the relationship of factories with the environment.

In this article, you will see how it is possible to use the circular economy to improve the use of sustainable resources, and how to generate new consumption patterns that provide more economy and environmental preservation.

What is the circular economy?

First, let’s better understand the concept ofcircular economy.

Unlike linear production, where raw materials are transformed into products, follow the flow of commercialization, and then are discarded, the circular economy seeks a more conscientious manufacturing process. Products are designed to be reused in cyclical flows, in a method called Cradle to Cradle.

According to a survey by CNI – National Confederation of Industry, presented on the CNI website ABIT – Brazilian Association of the Textile and Clothing Industry, more than 76% of national industries practice circular economy initiatives without even knowing it.

According to the numbers, 70% of respondents said they had not heard about the circular economy before the survey, although most of them already carried out practices related to the subject in their companies. One data point emphasizes the strategic importance of the subject. As the survey had an enlightening character, at the end of the questionnaire, 88.2% evaluate the circular economy as important or very important for the Brazilian industry.

Circular economy

Fonte: ABIT.

The textile production system holds great importance, as it’s difficult to imagine the world without textile products. In our daily lives, we are directly in contact, whether it’s with the clothes we wear or the towels we use, for example.

In this context, we can include the fashion industry, which has a significant influence, especially in Brazil and Europe. Fashion sets trends, and people follow. Therefore, introducing sustainable manufacturing and consumption models contributes to the growth of the circular economy.

Keep reading to better understand how the circular economy works!

How does the circular economy work and what is its objective?

A circular economy operates by obtaining resources from textile manufacturing to the final consumer. For fabric production, the industry relies on petroleum for synthetic fiber production, fertilizers for cotton cultivation, and chemicals used in dyes and finishing, such as coloring.

Due to the pandemic that began in 2020, the industry struggled with access to raw materials, both in terms of demand and prices, leading many companies to start considering sustainable resources.

It’s worth noting that sustainability is a way to adopt practices that will generate more economy for the industry. Reusing and recycling resources helps generate fewer negative impacts on the environment and prevents future material shortages.

Furthermore, it’s important to know that consumers are increasingly attentive to companies’ purposes, looking not only at the products but also at how the company behaves. Therefore, it’s necessary to broaden the perspective to a changing consumer who is altering the way they consume.

This also contributes to sustainability in textile production because the more one consumes, the more will be produced.

According to Febratex, on average, European citizens discard 11kg of textiles per year, with clothing items typically being worn only 7 or 8 times. At the same time, the European market has seen a significant increase in clothing sales over the last two decades, with a 40% jump in clothing pieces purchased per person.

Understanding the objective of the circular economy

The objective of the circular economy is to offer industries a production system that utilizes the reuse of textiles, which can be reused, remade, and recycled, focusing on the use of more sustainable raw materials.

It is based on promoting actions of socio-environmental responsibility, involving people and companies in order to rethink new projects, reduce impacts and waste, reuse products, and recycle materials and energy.

Government initiatives are already common where companies reuse resources from other companies, collaborating for a sustainable system together. In this way, it is possible to raise awareness and bring new consumption patterns to society.

How to implement the circular economy in the textile industry?

Next, we will see some practices that you can apply to bring the culture of the circular economy to your textile industry.


  • Promote the development of new systems


The textile industry can promote the development of new systems and infrastructures that align collection systems, to bring secondary material consumption to the market.


  • Invest in materials and products of quality


Investing in high-quality and durable products is a good strategy for implementing the circular economy. For production to be more sustainable, it’s necessary to prioritize renewable and recyclable materials.

Recyclable and more durable products offer opportunities for reuse and repurposing.


  • Stay alert to market incentives


In Brazil, according to the National Confederation of Industry, in Strategic Industry Map 2018 – 2022 The circular economy is seen as an opportunity to use resources more efficiently, increasing business competitiveness.

The Strategic Map establishes goals for a more sustainable use of natural resources, with its main proposal being waste management, with a focus mainly on plastic, increasing the proportion of plastic recycling from the current 9.8% to 12.5% by 2022.


  • Choose suppliers who also focus on sustainability


If your goal is to contribute to the Circular Economy, your industry’s negotiations and acquisitions need to be aligned with the purpose of sustainability. This involves making a good selection of suppliers and establishing a partnership relationship with those who help make your processes more sustainable.

Does your industry apply the Circular Economy?

A circular economy offers many advantages for both industries, consumers, and of course, the environment.

More sustainable practices eliminate waste thrown into both water and land, reducing negative environmental impacts. Thus, quality of life improves, and we can use natural resources more effectively.

Additionally, the circular economy generates more savings for companies, improving operational and production management.

Therefore, we can conclude that the circular economy is a process that should be strategically considered by the textile industry.

We hope that with this article, you have deepened your knowledge on the subject and are ready to seek the best ways to apply the Circular Economy in your industry.

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