Circular economy in Berlin’s textile and fashion landscape – workshop

The workshop gathered different actors from Berlin’s Fashion & Textile sector to identify & discuss the main structural challenges and the opportunities of a circular economy for textiles in Berlin.  


Circular Berlin, Future Fashion Forward e.V.


Berlin Partner für Wirtschaft und Technologie, BeShared project, Re-Use initiative, Circular Fashion, Zalando


May 2019

The challenge

Berlin, like many other European cities, is witnessing the problematic increase of local textile waste. This derives mainly, on one side from continuous low quality second-hand clothes donations, and on the other side, from the disposal of unsold ready-to-sell fashion items from multinational retailers. Many designers, along with textile recyclers, would be willing to use these leftovers, but there is no infrastructure in place yet enabling synergies between the different stakeholders.

Our approach

The textile waste issue needs to be assessed using synergies of all local stakeholders involved. We decided to gather relevant actors of the German textile & fashion industry, representatives from the Berlin municipalities and of the recycling industry.

With keynote speeches by Berlin Partner, Circular Fashion, Young Caritas Berlin and Methuselah Holding, and through two rounds of interactive working sessions involving all 60 participants, we focused on one main question: How can Berlin address the challenges of global industry such as textiles and fashion on a local level through circular economy?

The outcome

Beside the creation of some interesting new collaborations between different stakeholders, the participants identified the following main systemic challenges during the workshop :

  • The need for more accessible and transparent sourcing of sustainable and circular materials (leftovers, second-hand, overproduced new textiles & garments)
  • More advanced practices and infrastructures for the collection, separation & re-distribution of secondary textiles in Berlin
  • A lack of economic incentives to establish more local production, enabling local labels and other stakeholders to keep materials in more local cycles
  • Better consumer education about sustainability of textiles, repairing, recycling and circular economy practices is also needed in order for the system to function on a mainstream level.

Further steps

Numerous ideas for further steps were put forward during the workshop. In particular, the DBU presented a project proposal aiming to understand the local upcycling design scene and its needs. More ideas will be developed further by Circular Berlin.

Project contact person


Arianna Nicoletti

Textiles & Fashion Lead

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