C&A: Circular Textiles

A circular economy for the textiles sector.

We developed a comprehensive circular economy strategy for C&A, one of Europe’s largest fashion retailers, helping them take steps to achieving a fully closed-loop material cycle with new business opportunities. The project was a three-part study that investigated the state of the global textiles sector, C&A’s unique challenges and opportunities within the sector, and practical recommendations and steps that can be taken to close the loop.

  • Client: C&A
  • Date: January 2015
The challenge

The global textiles sector is one of the most impactful on Earth, notorious for its mostly “linear” structure, where large amounts of textiles are landfilled or incinerated. It is responsible for widespread social and environmental damage, and with the growing trend toward “fast fashion” – where the time between the initial design of a garment to its arrival on the store shelf can be less than two weeks – these impacts are only expected to intensify.

The challenge
Our approach

In this project, we mapped out the global textiles system and its impact, comparing C&A´s environmental performance to other companies in the sector with a framework of indicators we developed. Following on from this, we developed a comprehensive circular economy strategy to achieve a 100% closed material cycle and measured its impact.

Our approach
The outcome

We proposed new approaches for product design, business models, material recovery schemes, and innovations across the supply chain, and we prioritized actions in a roadmap, as well as producing KPIs and an analysis of the financial implications of moving towards a circular business model. Since producing this strategy C&A has incorporated a number of sustainability trajectories into its operations.

The outcome

“Our study showed that it is increasingly feasible to recycle high volumes of garments over multiple life cycles, due to the advancements in textile recycling technology. The avoidance of social and environmental impacts due to the transition to a circular model was shown to be significant, and there are a number of new opportunities for value creation through the development of leasing and other circular business models."

Lead Circular Industries


For more information about this project, please get in touch.