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CAN PRECYCLING
‘CLOSE THE LOOP’?

Precycling is the first step when it comes to becoming more sustainable. We need to make sure that we make decisions that prevent waste generation in the first place, before the need for recycling or upcycling even arises.

Words By Varnika Srivastava

19/04/2021

Closing The Loop 

Our world can no longer sustain business as normal. The linear ‘take-make-waste’ business model makes goods that are only consumed once before being discarded. It is time for a new, purpose-driven approach to waste and eating more sustainably. The circular economy provides us with the tools we need to live a life that is more prosperous, healthier, and stronger. Circularity is gaining traction as a potential business concept, ensuring natural resource sufficiency by extending the life cycle of useful products and avoiding waste creation at the source.

Waste is scaled up, which means it is converted into fuel and valuable resources are kept out of landfills. Designing, manufacturing, using, and reusing objects inside planetary limits is the circular business model. Different approaches to ramp up waste into useful energy have benefited from focusing on alternatives rather than challenges. By ‘closing the loop,’ upcycling and precycling are sustainable measures that seek to increase resource quality and reduce landfill waste. 

 

Recycling is an excellent way to keep money in use and is far superior to dumping recyclables in landfills. At the same time, we should not focus only on recycling to do all of the heavy lifting; we must understand how we can make smarter buying decisions to reduce ALL of our waste, including recyclables. This is where precycling comes in. The Department of Environment Conservation of New York defines precycling as ‘PREvent waste before you reCYCLE!’.By not producing garbage, pre-cycling eliminates the need to recycle or dispose of waste. This is something you can do before you have to compost. In many ways, this is simply a new name for things that environmentally conscious people have been doing for decades, but by giving it a name, we aim to raise the consciousness of the importance of our consumer choices in reducing the amount of waste we make.

However, preventing the creation of waste at its source is easier said than done. Consumers need to make an active decision to remember the waste caused by their purchase before making it. Is the commodity made of recycled materials? Is the commodity recyclable in itself? Is there a lot of packaging? Is the wrapping made of recyclable materials? And, more specifically, do you really need this item? Is there something you should repurpose or reuse instead? Consider these issues until you buy anything, and you’ll be well on your way to successful precycling.

From the start, I realize that it would be impossible to fully comprehend Nissreen’s artwork without understanding the daily reality of the Palestinian people and their recent history, so I direct my next question around this. “I always try to talk about what I know, what has been part of my own experiences and what catches my attention,” she explains. Nissreen works with video, performance, photography and sculpture. This combination of installations and different techniques provides her with multiple possibilities when it comes to communicating complex themes. “I bring my identity and myself to the ‘white cube’, breaking it down through confession. I baptize my cultural elements and turn them into subversive and obsessive materials.”

Precycling And Fashion 

Many high-street fashion brands are facilitating precycling through agreements to sell their end-of-line surplus stock at a discount to a third party. Following initiatives from the likes of Fashion Revolution and Entropy Uprising, Newlife, a charity that sells recycled clothes at a fraction of the retail price to raise money for autistic and terminally ill children around the UK, has seen a rise in the number of stores promoting its brand. This model, according to Newlife, has both environmental and social benefits. On the environmental front, the life-cycle of fashion is prolonged, preventing clothes from being thrown out or incinerated, and saving water, carbon, and energy used in the production of new apparel. In terms of social gains, the concept supports charities while also encouraging customers to get inexpensive clothes for themselves and their friends.

“Pre-cycling – preventing clothing from going straight to landfill through buying end-of-line and surplus stock – is the new sustainable shopping trend gaining traction among conscious consumers,” Newlife stores’ head of retail Harjinder Samra stated.

A Potential

Gamechanger?

It’s no wonder that precycling has the potential to be a game-changer in the fashion industry. Every year, it is estimated that about £140 million worth of clothing is thrown away, including pieces that have never been worn. Pre-cycling, on the other hand, allows end-of-line and surplus merchandise that has not been purchased to be recycled at a lower price, preventing clothing and products from ending up in landfills. When it comes to pre-cycling wear, companies like Newlife stores are leading the way, partnering with high-street brands like Primark, River Island, Schuh, New Look, and Peacocks, with all proceeds going to help autistic and terminally ill children. Customers will also browse for such pieces in shops like Newlife even though they’re out of season, extending the life cycle of high street fashion.Some luxury firms, such as Burberry, have been chastised unnecessarily producing waste in 2018. Rather than selling unsold clothing and shoes at a discount, the British luxury fashion house is said to have burnt almost £30 million worth of stock. According to the BBC, Burberry did this to secure the exclusivity of their name. According to a statement sent to Bustle UK by Newlife shops, they have now saved 2,100 tonnes of stock from being wasted. While it is important that brands come up with new ways to ‘close the loop’, we as consumers should also identify and take responsibility. Now is the time we make conscious decisions so that brands can modify themselves according to the changing and more sustainable consumer preferences.

@fashionrevolution

“By selling pre-cycled stock from our retail partners, we save around 2,100 tonnes of clothing from landfill every year; that is [equivalent to] the combined carbon volume of 10,000 houses.”