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Global Change Award is an innovation challenge initiated by H&M Foundation, aiming to make fashion circular.
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An online market for textile leftovers

150 billion garments are produced each year – but over 30% of the materials used in the process go to waste. But it’s not waste – it’s a valuable resource for someone else. What if these spilled resources could be mapped, traced and easily transferred to another user? This is exactly what Reverse Resources has done, and the fashion industry is a little bit more circular.

Awarded: €150,000 Year: 2016 Company: Reverse Resources

The innovation in a nutshell

An online platform, where textile leftovers from fabric and garment production are mapped, traced and traded.

Let us explain

The total volume of spill from fashion production is over 30% and it’s not only because of planning errors. “Clothing manufacturers are optimising their production quite efficiently. But there are many stages of production, and in every stage, there is unavoidable some waste,” says Ann Runnel, founder of Reverse Resources.

Reverse Resources’ trials have shown that most of the production leftovers could be reused in the same factories or get recycled into new fabrics. There is a growing number of recyclers who produce high-quality material out waste textiles. They need a steady flow of similar waste, but can’t access the waste efficiently right now.

To enable this closed loop process, Reverse Resources have created an online software platform to connect fashion brands, suppliers, recyclers and traders of the waste. The software helps to segregate, map, measure and create a trace of textile scraps throughout the supply chain. Someone’s waste is someone else’s treasure.

Since winning the award

Ann and her team have carried out extensive research among factories in China, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and are working on their second white paper with their learnings. They’ve discovered that the volume of leftovers moving out of the supply chains of big fashion brands far exceeds what is expected by the brands.

In 2018, the team shifted their idea from creating an online trading site of fabrics for upcycling designers, to focusing on tracking and tracing cutting scraps to create market insight for industrial recyclers, and solve an even bigger problem. They have active users in Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, and work with some of the largest fashion brands in the world to show how they can close the loop for textile waste.

“Our team has completely changed since we won the award. Back then we didn’t really know what was coming, so the skillset we had combined didn’t match the tasks laying ahead. By now we have built a strong team with a good competence balance,” says Ann.

Team members: Ann Runnel, Nin Castle and Dea Lasting
Country: Estonia
Company: Reverse Resources
reverseresources.net

“Global Change Award helped us open doors to build a network and get access to confidential information in different points in the supply chains, which has been critical for us to develop the concept from an idea to actual business case. It has also helped us to grow our minds to think much bigger than we would have dared otherwise.”
Ann Runnel