Project ACE – Accelerating Circular Economy

By Siddharth Lulla
21 February, 2022
3 mins read

The Circular Apparel Innovation Factory (CAIF) launches a new program – Project ACE (Accelerating Circular Economy), supported by the DOEN Foundation to build a business case for a circular economy

The potential for the application of circular economy principles in the Textile & Apparel industry continues to expand and become clearer. While brands are increasingly looking to explore circular solutions (product innovations, business models, digital tools), a number of real as well as perceived barriers stand in the way of their adoption at scale. One such critical barrier is the lack of clear evidence of their economic viability. A circular solution that promises to deliver planet and people positive outcomes is intuitively interesting. However, if it is not economically viable for the industry (i.e. brands, manufacturers) to adopt, then such a circular solution will find very few takers. Hence a true “Business case” of a circular solution in the context of the circular economy would imply one that provides a combination of financial, environmental and social performance. Thus for a circular solution to be widely adopted and scaled across the industry i.e. by leading brands and manufacturers, an understanding of what its Business Case is, becomes critical. 

Based on our interactions and learning’s from key stakeholders across the industry we realize that for evaluating the Business Case for a circular solution: 

  • An active engagement beyond just the sustainability teams and with key members from broader functions like brand teams, IT, design and procurement is essential
  • Brands and manufacturers evaluating the business case of a solution should not look at it as a point in time pilot but with an intent of commercial adoption once the business case is proven

With these key learnings and insights, CAIF has launched Project ACE to help the industry (brands, manufacturers) build evidence of the underlying business case of circular solutions across thematic areas that are of business importance – like alternative materials, water management, energy efficiency, closing the loop on textile waste, alternatives to single-use plastics etc. and therefore create the foundation for their greater industry adoption.

About the Programme: 

CAIF launched Project ACE (Accelerating Circular Economy) in collaboration with DOEN Foundation. Through this, we aim to build evidence to establish the business case for circular solutions and hence build momentum towards a circular economy in the Textiles and Apparel industry in India. 

Project ACE is designed with a 2-year timeframe and based on inputs from industry leaders aims to bring together a consortium of brands/manufacturers/corporates who are pioneering efforts in mainstreaming circular economy practices – both globally and locally.  

Given that no single organization has the ability and/or willingness (resources and motivation) to invest behind scaling circular economy practices.  The programme enables corporate brands and manufacturers to collaboratively pilot circular solutions to prove that circular business has a strong business case in thematic areas aligned with their sustainability goals such as alternative materials, water management, energy efficiency, closing the loop on textile waste, alternatives to single-use plastics etc 

Our Approach:

Under Project ACE, CAIF is working closely with the business and sustainability teams of leading brands and manufacturers using the following approach:

Assess High-Impact Solutions 

  • CAIF has sourced and conducted a robust technical evaluation of circular solutions aligned to target themes, to assess their impact and scalability potential and match participating corporate brands and manufacturers with solutions that meet their needs 

Remove Risks & Barriers 

  • Piloting circular solutions has associated risks and costs. CAIF is creating brand consortiums around specific circularity themes to distribute and minimize the risk of innovation pilots and provide a provision to support innovators and brands to cover operational costs of pilots 

Demonstrate Success on Ground 

  • CAIF is hand-holding corporate brands, manufacturers and innovators to facilitate the design and implementation of coordinated and collective on-ground pilots around selected circular solutions, with measurable outcomes and impact metrics 

Establish a Business Case 

  • Through the pilots, CAIF will establish and articulate the business cases (economic, environmental, social value) for adoption and scaling of the piloted circular solutions by brands and manufacturers across their supply chains, and in the process accelerate and mainstream the circularity transition 

Expected Outcomes: 

  • Create evidence to showcase the business case of high impact circular solutions, which include economic, environmental, social viability
  • Drive the adoption and integration of high impact circular solutions within the Textile & Apparel supply chain
  • Create industry awareness of the planet and people positive impact created as a result of adopting circular solutions and best practices

Siddharth Lulla
Siddharth Lulla

Siddharth Lulla is the Lead - Corporate strategy & Enterprise Engagement at CAIF and drives programmatic initiatives within the organisation.