Fashion recycling platform SuperCircle has raised $7 million in a pre-series A financing round.
The reverse logistics business, which has developed a digital platform to make it easier for brands like Reformation and Uniqlo to collect, sort and ultimately recycle clothes at the end of their life, will use the funds to improve logistics infrastructure, accelerate brand partnerships and enable strategic hires across the business.
The company sits in an emerging space as fashion businesses come under increasing pressure to find solutions for the growing problem of clothing waste. In the US alone, the volume of textiles sent to landfill increased nearly 30 percent between 2010 and 2018 to reach more than 11 million tonnes, according to the country’s Environmental Protection Agency. Policymakers in places like California and the European Union are considering legislation that would make brands responsible for collecting and managing this waste.
SuperCircle is aiming to be part of the connective tissue of infrastructure needed to effectively link consumers and brands back to recyclers. The company’s tech and logistics platform plugs into brands’ consumer-facing take-back and returns schemes to push inventory that can’t be sold to recycling partners. Brands get transparency over where their old clothes end up, avoiding the risk of a scandal if it’s discovered they’ve been destroyed or dumped, as well as new consumer touch points and data.
Though weaker-expected demand for new circular materials has shaken the market for fashion recycling technology in recent weeks, infrastructure like SuperCircle is seeking to build tests different territory.
Investors are betting on the consumer-facing platform to drive both returns through customer engagement and positive environmental impact for brands. It’s a “category maker,” said Nisha Dua, co-founder and managing partner at investor BBG Ventures.
The Hunt for an Easy Way to Recycle Old Clothes
Technologies that can recycle old clothes back into new ones have been touted as a holy-grail sustainability solution. As they begin to scale, the industry is facing a tricky new logistics challenge.