A 2050 Vision for Textiles

Imagine this. It is 2050 and you live in Flanders, Belgium. A circular economy. Almost all the textiles you own are not yours to keep: you are renting your t-shirts, your curtains, your winter jacket… You buy a mere 2 kilograms of clothing per year – those items that are most private.

The European market accepts textile products only if they are manufactured in accordance with recyclability legislation. Through a product stewardship scheme, all those involved in the product lifecycle are motivated to contribute to an environmental design and re-design of your clothes and other textile products.

Meanwhile, two streets away from your home, a high-tech factory – a so-called “tex-clinic” – takes back the products you no longer wish to use. At the tex-clinic, circularity professionals will ensure that these materials are either reused or recycled, flowing to a new life and user.

This, in brief, is the vision we developed at TOP-atelier’s backcasting workshop. Our workshop gathered collectors, sorters, local authority representatives, recyclers, technology innovators and sectoral representatives to look ahead and develop the vision of a circular textile system in 2050.

But the aim of the workshop was not to dream and visualise: it was to plan and anticipate. If this is 2050, what does that mean for the new government that will be sworn in this year? Where would Flanders need to be by 2035? What legislative changes would Europe need to enact to make this possible, and by when? And importantly, what can we – project managers, innovators and local authorities – do today to achieve our vision in 2050?

Prospex Institute designed and moderated the backcasting workshop, as part of the Flemish project Top-atelier, financed by Vlaanderen Circulair.