Research, insights add value to Circular Economy Workshop for Apparel Sector

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14th December 2023: In response to the multifaceted challenges posed by resource scarcity, environmental impacts and economic concerns, Monash University in partnership with the Joint Apparel Association Forum (JAAF) initiated an insightful Workshop on the Circular Economy (CE) and its profound implications for the apparel industry. The workshop, held recently, served as a catalyst for a collaborative dialogue among prominent apparel manufacturers, researchers and stakeholders.

The central theme underscored the imperative transition from a linear “take-make-use-dispose” business model to a circular one characterized by circular economic flows. This paradigm shift, embedded in the CE ethos, aims to minimise resource inputs and emissions across organizations and their supply networks. The CE approach places a strong emphasis on slowing, narrowing and closing resource loops, thereby enhancing efficiency and significantly reducing waste. Notably, CE practices offer a sustainable and environmentally conscious alternative to traditional production methods.

“”Embracing a circular economy is no longer optional; it’s imperative,” emphasized Professor Amrik Sohal from the Department of Management at Monash Business School, Monash University, a guest speaker at the Workshop. “Sri Lankan companies have been instrumental in driving this change. Yet, the journey to a circular economy, especially for forward-thinking enterprises is challenging. A collective dialogue on adopting circular economy practices is particularly crucial for the apparel industry, a major contributor to global waste and environmental impact.”

The workshop served as a unique platform that brought together leading apparel manufacturers and researchers to exchange insights, share current CE practices and discuss future plans for advancing both theoretical and practical knowledge related to CE in the Sri Lankan Apparel Industry.

This collaborative effort gains particular relevance and timeliness in light of the European Union’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD). Legally enacted in 2023, the CSRD is set to commence applicability for larger corporations in the year 2024. The workshop’s discussions were significantly intertwined with the objectives outlined in the CSRD, particularly addressing the EU’s ambitious goal to transition towards more circular apparel production practices by the year 2030.

Operations & Supply Chain Strategy at Loughborough University Professor Jan Godsell opined that, “Apparel companies must redefine their business models, embracing sustainability and ethical practices to navigate the evolving landscape. In the face of these challenges, the future belongs to those who innovate and transform, aligning with evolving regulatory landscape in the EU. We are happy to partner to take this path forward.”

The Workshop organized by Monash University Australia, garnered support from the Made Smarter Innovation and UKRI: ESRC funded InterAct initiative. Local partnerships were instrumental with JAAF, Moratuwa University and the Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM) actively contributing to the success of the workshop.

The JAAF-led Workshop was a testament to the industry’s commitment to embracing Circular Economy principles. By fostering collaboration, sharing insights and addressing challenges head-on, the groundwork was laid for a more sustainable and circular future for the apparel industry in Sri Lanka and beyond. The Workshop’s outcomes are expected to resonate as a guiding force for the industry’s evolution towards a more environmentally conscious and economically viable Circular Economy.

 

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