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    Fair Trade and the Circular Economy

    Monday, 11 February 2019  |  Joanna

    New plans are unveiled today by the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO) to expand adoption of upcycling and other circular economy production models by Fair Trade Enterprises. The initiative spans fashion, homewares and accessories and will reach over 50 countries. This is the first global initiative of its kind to work across such a breadth of product categories and countries.

    Several pioneers who are already merging Fair Trade with circular economy have brought their latest designs to Frankfurt for the Ambiente Trade Show. These include:

    Prokritee from Bangladesh, which ensures the people who collect the waste fabrics are treated fairly while adopting a production process embracing upcycling. They are collecting and upcycling saris, paper and discarded cotton from fast fashion factories to create high-quality Fair Trade bags, baskets and ornaments. “For us, the environment and social goals pull in the same direction. Upcycling helps clean up some of the mess created by large-scale manufacturing, while creating a business model benefiting local artisans,” said Swapan Kumar Das, the Executive Director of Prokritee.

    Chako from Tanzania, which collects waste from Zanzibar’s hotels, resorts and tourism operators to create lights, accessories and other home decor products. They upcycle waste glass bottles to make lighting accessories, traditional Zanzibar Dhow sails to make hip new bags and discarded magazines to make bead curtains. Their business model is designed to give maximum benefit to their artisans. “We are here to build solutions and love our community. The Dhow sails embody Zanzibar’s maritime history and we wanted to keep this alive in the bags that people can enjoy,” said Anneloes Roelandschap, one of the social entrepreneurs leading Chako.

    WomenCraft from Tanzania works with over 400 women artisans in Tanzania to create high-end handcrafted home décor, fusing traditional weaving techniques with modern designs. Among the artisans are 100 Burundian refugee women living in the Mtendeli camp in northwest Tanzania. As a raw material, artisans reuse local Gunia grain sacks, ever-present in Tanzanian households. The sacks are separated into individual threads, which are carefully interwoven with locally harvested grasses – upcycled, natural & fair! “The resilience and talent of our artisans are inspiring! They are proud to preserve their traditional weaving culture through their work and present their incredible artistry to customers around the world,” said Kara Hook, the Chief Operating Officer at WomenCraft Social Enterprise.

    Fair Trade embraces circular economy

    “Fair Trade is the most advanced model for ensuring business takes care of people. When combined with new approaches in circular economy, what results are the world’s most inspiring enterprises. These Fair Trade Enterprises showcase the business models of the new economy. Our new initiative will spread these ideas far and wide,” said Erinch Sahan, the Chief Executive of the WFTO. 

    The WFTO has built its People and Planet Initiative where circular economy models of production are increasingly embraced by the Fair Trade movement over the next three years. Education and collaboration efforts will span every continent in the world. This will generate significant growth of upcycling across the global Fair Trade community by 2022. Read more here.

    The 330 Fair Trade Enterprises that make up the WFTO are assessed to put people and planet first in all their practices and through their business model. This means they are uniquely placed to embrace both environmental and social objectives.

    About WFTO

    The World Fair Trade Organization is the global community of Fair Trade Enterprises. Founded in 1989, it has over 400 members across 70 countries. The membership includes over 330 Fair Trade Enterprises, as well as the broader movement of 70 organisations and networks that support them. The WFTO verifies the commitment of its members to Fair Trade through peer reviews and independent audits. At its core, the WFTO is the home of Fair Trade Enterprises, which are mission-led businesses that put people and planet first.