The 2023 edition of Ecomondo, the largest Italian fair on circular economy, hosted the most relevant companies, research centres, EU representatives and leading law firms at the important event Accelerate the Circular Transformation in textile industry on value creation in the textile sector. The conference was organized by Eleonora Rizzuto, Sustainability Officer of the LVMH Group, member of the scientific committee of Ecomondo and President-founder AISEC, Italian Association for the development of the Circular Economy, and hosted the President of the National Chamber of Fashion, Carlo Capasa, and the President of Sistema Moda Italia, Sergio Tamborini.
The main topics discussed have been the circular economic model in the textile and fashion industry, as well as the legislative scenario, the best practices of fashion companies, the value of know-how and savoir-faire, perspectives and gaps still existing, and not least the practices of urban mining.
It was an excellent opportunity to present the logistics platform for the circular economy created by the LVMH Group, the world’s largest luxury player. Its 75 maisons provide an incredible playing field to explore new avenues for the circularity between its activities. Products must be designed to ensure durability, using high quality materials, which in turn require in-depth knowledge of the suppliers and the country of origin of the main raw materials; but also provide for a second life, over maintenance and repair solutions. In this way, once a product has reached the end of its initial use, the product itself or the materials can be reused or recycled.
In this way, products can have a second life by disassembling unsold objects and reusing components. In 2022, for example, more than 190,000 meters of fabric were recycled by the LVMH Group.
The Project is consistently part of the global LIFE 360, the environmental strategy of the LVMH Group that has set ambitious targets for 2023, 2026 and 2030, based on the LIFE 2020 programme (LVMH Initiatives for the Environment).
The project is inspired by the French experience of CEDRE – Centro Ambientale per la Scomposizione e il Riciclo degli Imballaggi Ecologici created by the Group in France since 2009 -, but acts in the Italian context, where it has to deal with more complex authorization procedures. And on this point it was important to reiterate the need to “accelerate” the circular transformation even in the regulatory field. For a country poor in raw materials and geographically marginal compared to the large markets of central Europe, a complete transition to the circular economy is a strategic goal to address the major transformations that are affecting the global economy. The creation of new supply chains of secondary raw materials, replacing virgin raw materials, is one of the elements that lies at the basis of the new model of production and consumption aimed at the efficient use of resources and the circular maintenance of their flow in the country: an epochal challenge, necessary to be competitive.
The discussion also focused on the importance of being able to transmit know-how and competences in order to achieve excellence and continuity in craftwork, creating new jobs. It emerged that 80% of the LVMH Group companies in 2022 implemented a structured policy to safeguard and pass on the key skills related to tradition. Some examples are the LVMH Institut des Métiers d’Excellence, a professional training program for the luxury goods sector based on the work/study format, which has welcomed 450 new students in France, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Japan, Germany and the United States, and the Bvlgari Jewellery Academy in Valenza, an internal training programme dedicated to young artisans. Last but not least, the Massoli Academy founded by Fendi and Sartoria Massoli, a renowned haute couture atelier, further projects designed to transmit the unique savoir-faire of tailoring to new generations of artisans and to protect the prestige of craftsmanship “Made in Italy”.
On the theme of urban mining, the conference enlighted the strategic importance played by cities, especially following the impact that the emergency COVID has determined on behavior and lifestyles, a mapping of the territory must be carried out from the point of view of availability in quantitative terms and the cost-effectiveness of extraction in relation to market prices. It is necessary to deepen the knowledge of what an urban fabric produces so as to be able to enhance every aspect.
For example, good news come from the paper industry, one of the driving sectors of the circular economy. Starting from 24 February 2021, paper and cardboard waste ceases to be classified as waste assuming the status of “recovered” and therefore can be used for other purposes (in accordance with UNI EN 643). We need to quantify and intercept these precious materials through digital mapping, a database that communities must use. As for electrical and electronic waste, such as computers, batteries or scrap vehicles, there is one called Urban Mine Platform. It can be used in as many as 30 European countries and can trace over 18 million tons of electrical and electronic waste. Databases of other subjects struggle to take off and this does not help in the process of recovering materials from cities.
In Europe, pressure is increasing towards a more sustainable vision of cities, encouraging the use of indicators based on the 2030 Agenda, and among these, we recall, are those linked to the recovery of matter. In fact, the EU, through the Joint Research Center (JRC) of the Commission, has made available to all local governments the “European handbook for SDG Voluntary local review” with the aim of providing guidance to policy makers and administrators of all European local communities to create their own Voluntary local review (VLR), supporting them in the choice of indicators, while Eurocities has published “Paving the way for sustainable cities. Eurocities report on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals at local level”.
In relation to the analysis of cities and their process of improvement in terms of sustainable growth, the Istat Annual Reports on SDGs8 and Fair and Sustainable Welfare Indicators (BES) may be particularly useful. Fair and sustainable welfare (BES) provides a set of data that allow you to represent how well a territory is, through 130 indicators, illustrating 12 relevant domains. During 2018-19, about twenty Italian municipalities worked (accompanied along a predefined experimental path) to connect the BES indicators with the programming tool, that is, the DUP. The experiment consisted in creating coherence between programming (the DUP), management (the budget) and the evaluation of effects (through the BES). The challenge proposed to the municipalities was to associate the indicators of the BES with the 12 missions/program provided by the municipal budget. The ultimate objective is to integrate a policy matrix into the DUP to understand the connections between the strategies adopted and the effects of their implementation.
The advantages of this tool are obvious: in the immediate you get a better understanding of the policies of the Municipalities and a greater ability to communicate them to the stakeholders; connecting the policies with measurable indicators, you facilitate the evaluation processes, allowing administrations to increase the effectiveness of their decisions; moreover, it is potentially easier to compare the different municipal realities with each other in a kind of benchmarking, that can act as an incentive to a continuous improvement of their performance in relation to the sdgs.