Mainstreaming recycled textiles - An analysis of drivers and barriers for circular business model diffusion in the Dutch apparel industry
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Sustainability is recognised as one of the grand challenges of our time. Being one of the most polluting industries, the textile industry currently takes steps towards sustainability. The implementation of circular business models (CBM) in this industry is one of the potential solutions for diminishing externalities. However, it remains unclear what factors can drive or hinder the diffusion of CBM in the textile sector. This thesis takes up this challenge by seeking to map drivers and barriers for the diffusion of CBM through a case study on the diffusion of textile recycling in the Dutch apparel industry. The research question ‘What are the drivers and barriers for circular business model diffusion in Dutch apparel companies?’ is therefore aimed at investigating drivers and barriers through a holistic and systematic approach. CBM are innovative business models developed upon the characteristics of the circular economy. The development of newly introduced business models can be understood following innovation theories. Diffusion of CBM is constantly influenced by other factors. Eight categories of drivers and barriers were presented in a framework built upon a review of the state-of-the-art academic literature, namely: attitudinal, economic, environmental, institutional, operational, organisational, structural, and technological drivers and barriers. The data for this research was gathered through 10 semi-structured interviews with representatives from Dutch apparel companies. Furthermore, three interviews were conducted with representatives from the recycling industry in India and Sri Lanka as supplier countries to link the data gathered by Dutch interviewees to current developments on the supplier side. The main results found are that the economic, attitudinal and structural category are the top three most important ones. In the attitudinal category relatively the most drivers can be found, whereas the operational category consists of relatively the most barriers. The most important drivers found by this research (but are not limited to): company-internal values, technological developments and collaborations; while the most important barriers include (but are not limited to): Lack of consumer interest, high prices, and scale. This research has found a balanced figure of drivers as barriers whereas current changes in attitude and ongoing technological developments stand the most positive prospects for CBM diffusion. The existing drivers and barriers are interconnected, which makes breaking lock-in a key factor for further diffusion. For example, upscaling of technological solutions is currently lagging. However, there are positive prospects due to acceleration of technological developments, changes in market mechanisms and institutional drivers.