We must all go back to school

Neither students, teachers, nor present day professionals are equipped to deal with the new climate reality.

Training and re-training programmes that build leadership skills and expertise on circular innovation are crucial to disseminate the latest knowledge on circularity and sustainability, as well as the skills to put that knowledge into practice.

Whether that’s workshops, masterclasses, or train-the-trainer programmes, we are committed to mobilising the knowledge we’ve accumulated over the years in a practical way.

Our goal? To enable staff and trainers around the globe to be ambassadors within their own organisations and incite change within projects, classrooms, and organisations alike.
trained in circular economy principles since 2011
trained in circular economy principles since 2011

From waste to wealth

the issue

More than 3 million tonnes of waste are produced in Nigeria, a lot of it burnt, which contributes to deteriorating air quality. Unemployment rates in Nigeria have also soared in recent years, leaving the country with a significant prosperity gap. Meanwhile, unreliable and disjointed logistics often makes local sourcing the only option for many entrepreneurs and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in Lagos, heightening the need to make the most of the scarce resources that are available to them.

All of this makes the circular economy an attractive opportunity for the country, as it promises to do more with less, maximise benefits for people and the planet, and create new jobs throughout the (labour-intensive) transition.

But before realising this potential, business communities everywhere need guidance as to where to start and which circular strategy to prioritise—Lagos is no exception!

the response

In collaboration with the Lagos Business School and Oxfam Novib, we developed a training for local SMEs to design more circularity into their business models. The training consisted of a series of workshops and a toolkit containing case studies, best practices and guiding principles, tailored to the entrepreneurs’ context and needs.

We also developed a Train the Trainer programme for local Business Development Services (BDS) providers so they, too, could provide support to SMEs looking to become more circular going forward. The Train the Trainer programme was delivered to 10 BDS providers in Lagos.

our role

Circle Economy developed both training programmes and all supporting resources, based on past experience building capacity with business communities in the Netherlands, Belgium, Scotland, and more. To contextualise the training to the local business community, we relied on insights from our local partner, the Lagos Business School, as well as from the participants themselves.


Building capacity and shifting mindsets

In October 2019, we trained 24 people across 14 SMEs in Lagos. These included a furniture producer, two recyclers, a farm and a health food chain.

Based on participants’ feedback, the training helped enhance their knowledge of the circular economy as well as their understanding of systems thinking and the role they can play within the local ecosystem.

The training also provided them with new insights, with many of the participants referring to the experience as an ‘eye opener’.

We also trained 10 BDS providers, enabling them to provide local SMEs with support in becoming more circular in the future.

From theory to practice: new circular business models

All participating SMEs came out of the training with an action plan and timelines to incorporate circular thinking into their business models. For example, a couch manufacturer decided to set up a production line to refurbish and sell second-hand couches, which  allowed them to attract a new, more cost-conscious group of customers.

However, due to covid-19, most of these SMEs’ priorities have shifted to ensure short-term sustainability.

What's next?

The Lagos Business School is now working to embed circularity in their curriculum for SMEs. They are also providing coaching to participating SMEs to work on their action plans. 

Upskilling the textiles industry

the issue

The apparel industry consensus towards implementing the circular economy is massive, as expressed through commitments such as the Global Fashion Agenda, United Nations Fashion Industry Charter for Climate Action and the G7 Fashion Pact.

While the infrastructure to support a circular value chain still requires investment, there is already a trove of circular opportunities for the industry to get started with. But the textiles system, like all other human-made systems, is made of and heavily relies on people — people who have been trained differently, who find it difficult to navigate the sea of options available to them and who might lack the skills and knowledge they need to even act on these opportunities.

the response

To answer the industry’s needs, Circle Economy has developed a suite of educational workshops for apparel professionals: On Course.

On Course equips design, marketing, and CSR teams at apparel brands and retailers with in-depth knowledge of the key terminologies, players, and strategies in the circular textiles space. These interactive trainings develop the mindset and skill-set needed to advance circularity across 5 key topics: an introduction to circularity, sourcing and design, business model innovation, end of life supply chain, and branding and communications.

our role

Our team developed five educational modules based on the Circle Textiles Programme’s 6 years of expertise and is conducting trainings for textiles and apparel professionals, as well as for fashion educators. Get in touch for more information on the Circle Economy website.
trained to date, including marketing teams, product developers and designers, CSR managers, scientists and professors
trained, including global brands and retailers and educational institutions


An immersive and practical experience

Exploring the five modules of On Course, participants get an overview of best practices, trends, and case studies of key industry players and technologies. The learnings and solutions generated by teams while taking On Course often prove to be a valuable input for their brands’ circularity strategy. 

  • In the Introduction to Circularity module brand teams learn about the 7 key elements of the circular economy and assess their current circular performance, using the Circle Fashion Tool.
  • In the Circular Design module, participants sort through a mountain of post-consumer clothing to understand how decisions at the design stage affect the reusability, repairability and recyclability of a product at end of use stage and are also guided to critically assess the current design of their best performing or never-out-of-stock product(s). Based on this, they pinpoint specific circular opportunities relating to materials, hardware, finishings, form and function, and redesign the item in question, using the key circular design principles of durability, cyclability and minimal waste. 
  • The Business Innovation module allows teams to deep dive into various circular business case studies and assess the applicability to their own brand. 
  • The End of Use module delves into the complexity of its namesake's value chain, unpacking the realities of current collection, sortation and recycling systems, as well as the future solutions that are unfolding. 
  • The Circular Brands module is focuses on how to engage the public, and tell the story of circularity, and is geared toward branding and marketing teams.
Marianella Cervi
Senior Manager, Sustainability & Responsibility EMEA at VF Corporation
Circular economy marks an exciting opportunity for the apparel and footwear sector but at the same time requires product departments to drastically change how they operate. We engaged with Circle Economy to gain new skills to navigate this change. The training was well structured, theory and practice were rightly balanced and it definitely helped us to think out of the box and integrate circular design into the creative process.

Professors and staff trained at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute are leveraging learnings from the training to incorporate circularity in their curricula.

A number of brands have also put the learnings from the training to use in redeveloping their strategy and setting circularity targets. The desire to learn and share insights across product teams has also been a key outcome, and has led to the development of structural knowledge-sharing talks within a large outdoor brands group.

What's next?

Our focus is to continue to roll out On Course with leadings brands and retailers and scale its reach through digitisation. Additionally, we are currently scoping the global need to incorporate circularity across fashion and design school curricula. If you, your brand or educational  institution is interested in incorporating circularity into your product, project or curriculum please get in touch with us.