Each year, businesses produce no less than 80 million kilos of clothing but sell by no means all of it. The Netherlands fashion industry alone has an annual surplus of about 21.5 million unsold items of clothing. What’s more, 58 million kilos of the clothing we do wear ends up in the household rubbish for incineration. In global terms, just one percent of all the world’s garments that are actually worn come back as new fabrics. In other words: this is a huge waste of new raw materials and water.

High time for a solution, then. This is why MVO Nederland set up Clothes the Circle, a circular production chain to ‘close the circle’ for textiles. On this platform, we bring Dutch and foreign businesses together in a single chain so that they can produce sustainable, circular clothing.


Our project has already produced tangible results. The best example of this could well be the beautiful red dress that Minister Kaag wore during an international trade mission. This dress was produced from textile waste by the Khaloom company, which is one of the proud partners in the Clothes the Circle project. We subsequently also dressed Minister Bruins (Minister of Health, Welfare and Sport) in a suit made from textile waste, which he wore at the state opening of the Dutch Parliament.

One of the goals of the project is to demonstrate that you really can organise a circular supply chain for high quality textiles, with both Dutch and Indian companies. ‘Because there’s a lot in the industry that needs to be improved’, says Michiel van Yperen, MVO Nederland project manager and an expert in the field of circular textiles. ‘Checks on factories and improvements measures are necessary too but they are only sticking-plaster solutions, whereas with Clothes the Circle we are aiming for systematic change.’


MVO Nederland has already been working on the circular textiles model for some time now. Says Van Yperen: ‘With Clothes the Circle, we want to accelerate this trend, so that we can have a circular supply chain for consumer fashion too. We know this will work, because we have brought the right players to the table. So, the challenge is now: how can we ensure that the H&Ms and C&As of this world become even more important players in the circular model?’

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