Solutions for a Circular Economy: CIRCULAZE Goes to the ISPO Munich

CIRCULAZE, together with IFAT and more than 50 corporate executives from different industries, attended the ISPO Munich 2023 on November 29th. The program included cross-industry sessions to shine a spotlight on new solution approaches from a wide variety of sectors and to address the major problems of our time such as climate change, environmental pollution, and the loss of biodiversity and resource scarcity. With a panel talk, eXchange discussion, and a guided tour, the day left guests full of new ideas on how we can all contribute to a circular future.

by Rachel Johnson | Dec 1, 2023

Panel-Talk: “Textile Recycling – A Compelling Challenge”

The afternoon kicked-off with an informative panel on “Textile Recycling – A Compelling Challenge” that brought together distinguished experts in the field to discuss one of the industry’s most significant challenges. Moderated by Kim Scholze, Chief Marketing and Sales Officer of Sympatex, experts Nicole Kösegi, Management Consultant, solutions for business, Marc Schubert, COO and Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Looper Textile Co., and Ruth Oberrauch, Founder of LaMunt, Head of Sustainability Oberalp Group, Member of the Board of Oberalp Group joined for the discussion.

Nicole Kösegi, with a strong background in frameworks and institutions, urged the audience that collaboration is key, and that a common framework is desperately needed to create a level playing field. Regardless of the business model, all require a common framework to truly close the gap.

Marc Schubert, coming from the manufacturing and production side at Looper Textile Co., agreed with needing a common structure and legislation in all stages of the supply chain cycle. With a collection rate for used materials sitting at only around 40%, a better collection system is desperately needed and the requirements for sorting need to be improved. Currently in Germany, much of this collection is outsourced and more visibility and transparency around the topic are needed to solve the problem. Marc’s advice: just do it because the best way to move forward is to start.

Ruth Oberrauch, from Oberalp Group, argued that keeping up to date with all the information and its complexity is the biggest challenge at the moment, but that the key is to take risks, try things out, and build networks together. It’s important to keep quality first and foremost, and products should be built to last. However, we must also have other processes in place to repair, rent, resell, or take back products. The question that still remains, however, is how to make this scalable.

CIRCULAZE eXchange: “Revolutionizing Sustainability: Oberalp Group’s Road Towards Circularity”

After an insightful panel talk, we delved deeper into the work that Oberalp is doing to become circular in an intimate eXchange setting. CIRCULAZE Co-founder Natascha Zeljko led the discussion with Alexandra Letts, Sustainability Manager at Oberalp Group Spa (SALEWA – DYNAFIT – WILD COUNTRY – POMOCA – EVOLV – LAMUNT). They discussed Oberalp’s pioneering journey in sustainable innovation and how circular economy principles are at the heart of their strategy, reshaping product design and lifecycle extension to reduce emissions, including CO2. The audience was also able to enjoy an interactive Q&A session to gain firsthand insights from Alexandra. She provided a comprehensive overview of five core elements essential for embracing circularity:

  • Recycled, Recyclable, & Natural Materials
  • Longevity
  • Design & Engineering
  • Take Back
  • Stay in the Loop

The Key Takeaways:

Meetings, like the eXchange, are super enriching and important to think about the questions and problems we face. We are all in the same boat at the end and need to form networks to succeed and to keep the loop going. Circularity is not just a responsibility, but a loyalty program that benefits the business and planet.

Take risks and test, again, again, and again. We need to find a common way to approach circularity and to make it efficient and scalab Alexandra stressed the vitality of creating awareness and involving entire teams in processes beyond their direct responsibilities. This includes providing teams with information and learnings crucial to their work.

Networks are key. Voices from all industries are necessary, and we need to get involved on a local level as well, by asking those uncomfortable questions and buying consciously. A call to action was echoed with the hashtag #contribute, inviting participants to share their insights and contributions to the circular economy movement.

CIRCULAZE On Tour: “A Guided Sustainability/Circularity Journey”

The event continued with a guided tour visiting a seamless blend of innovation, sustainability, and revolutionary materials.

The first stop on the tour, the Material Lab. Curated by Studio Nima, the lab showcased sustainable innovations—bio-based polymers, biodegradable textiles, and plant-based alternatives. A standout was mycelium, from its natural state to end-of-life, offering a tangible glimpse into circular material possibilities. CIRCULAZE 2023 winner, Infinite Roots (formerly Mushlabs), added a culinary twist with their mycelium ‘meatballs,’ and 25 lucky guests were able to sample their product – a delicious treat available soon for all to buy!

Up next, the group headed to Polartec, a pioneer in sustainable fleece. Polartec has already shifted 50% to plant-based materials with a bold aim of making it to 100%. Their commitment to sustainability harmonizes with the durability and performance that has defined their brand for decades.

We were also excited to see numi.circular, a CIRCULAZE 2022 start-up winner. Andrea and Mario Schneller shared their digital infrastructure for circular product take-back, empowering brands in fashion, sports, kids’ equipment, and tools. numi’s software-based solution opens doors to re-commerce, remanufacturing, and recycling, showcasing the transformative power of technology in sustainability.

After a busy afternoon filled with lots of new insights and innovative ideas, the group gathered in the quiet of our lounge to wrap up the day and share their insights with one another. The atmosphere was charged, and the future is looking brighter as the network of contribution grows.

A big thank you to Messe München, ISPO Munich, and IFAT for hosting us and organizing this inspiring and insightful event.

Photos by Shana Lucas

CIRCULAZE is made possible through the friendly support of our amazing co-host dfv Mediengruppe and partners DB Cargo, ODDO BHF, Otto Krahn New Business, Knauf, Capgemini Invent, 4P Capital, Jokey, SBC Hamburg, Payback, Fressnapf, von Beust & Partner, phiyond by adelphi, and 1. FC Nürnberg.