Glossary ECONYL®




Something that breaks down or decays naturally without any scientific treatment.

e.g. Some things are naturally biodegradable, like food and plants.




An innate affinity of humans to seek connections with nature.

e.g. Considering biophilia when designing indoor spaces has been found to support cognitive function, physical health, and psychological well-being.




An estimate of the amount of greenhouse gases produced to support our day-to-day life. It can be calculated for a person, event, service, or product. On a larger scale, companies, businesses, even countries all produce a carbon footprint.

e.g. To lower your carbon footprint, consider avoiding car journeys as each litre of fuel burnt in a car engine emits over 2.5 kg of CO2 and choose walking or cycling.




A certified product, process, material or service has been verified (usually by an external body) and is guaranteed to have certain attributes.

e.g. Certified B Corporations are businesses that meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance and public transparency.




The circular economy is a model of production and consumption, which involves sharing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing, remanufacturing, and recycling materials and products as long as possible. This implies minimizing waste and pollution and reducing the use of new resources. As in nature, everything is transformed and finds a new purpose. It is in contrast with the traditional linear model, based on a take-make-dispose pattern.

e.g. The company wants to accelerate the transition to a circular economy.



Cradle to cradle has emerged as another term for circularity. It is a play on the phrase, “cradle to grave” which suggests a high-waste linear business model. A cradle to cradle model designs out waste, either through the use of biodegradable materials that will return to nature’s cycles, or keeping materials in use in a cycle of use and re-use, optimising original resource use, avoiding waste, and reducing the production of virgin raw materials.

e.g. An increasing number of product designers are combatting waste through cradle to cradle design and production.




When a product or material has reached the full potential of its current use, it enters a phase called end of usage and it could be disposed of.

e.g. To reduce the potential negative environmental impacts of end of usage products, manufacturers, and consumers should consider recycling or repurposing items giving them new uses.




Greenhouse gases are gases naturally present in the athmosphere like water vapour (H2O), carbon dioxide (CO2), and ozone (O3) among others. They contribute to mantaining the Earth’s heat and they warm the Earth by absorbing energy and slowing the rate at which the energy escapes in to space. The gases act like a blanket insulating the Earth, and is called the Greenhouse effect. Without it the Earth’s temperature would be 30 degrees cooler.

e.g. CO2 is the GHG most commonly produced by human activities and it is responsible for 64% of man-made global warming.




Often but not exclusively related to food, the term refers to farmed produce and materials grown avoiding the use of man-made fertilisers and pesticides.

e.g. When products are treated with natural fertilisers and without pesticides, they are organic.




To take an existing material and process it into a new product, through chemical or mechanical processes.

e.g. The take-back scheme was launched to collect old garments and recycle the materials.




Energy that has been derived from earth’s natural resources that are non – exhaustible or capable of continuous replenishment. Renewable energy is an alternative to the traditional energy that relies on fossil fuels, and it tends to be much less harmful to the environment.

e.g. The six most recognised sources of renewable energy are solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, ocean and biomass.




To repurpose something is to adjust the use of an item and extend its useful life, instead of disposing of it. Repurposing something is to use it again by adapting, reprocessing, or regenerating it – and making use of it for a different function.

e.g. It is possible to repurpose glass bottles and jars giving them another life as vases and candle holders.




The Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of 17 interlinked global goals defined and adopted by United Nations Member States in 2015 as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The goals focus on ending poverty, protecting the planet, and ensuring peace, and can be used by independent governments to develop legislative plans of action, or by brands and citizens as a set of goals to align practice with.

e.g. The brand aligned its environmental sustainability strategy with 5 of the SDGs.




An economic model focused on sharing or providing access to underutilised goods and services, generally facilitated through online platforms. It is a flexible peer-to-peer network that can be used to combat overconsumption, resource and material waste, and the perception of ownership; instead encouraging community engagement and sustainability.

e.g. The new report published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation cites a sharing economy as a possible solution to sustainability issues in the fashion industry because it can reduce overproduction through utilising existing materials.




The entire journey from raw material to final product or service including the sourcing, transformation or creation and delivery to final consumers.

e.g Supply chains whether they are local or global, add value at every stage and provide employment in multiple sectors.




The ability to track a supply chain or material back to its origins to see the movement of materials and the locations of production and manufacturing facilities. Traceability is a key challenge faced by globalised supply chains, however recent advancements in technology including fibres forensically traced to farm, and clothing microchips that can show the complete fabric to garment supply chain, can help highlight potential social and environmental risks in the countries involved.

e.g. To improve traceability in its supply chain, the brand’s new supplier code of conduct prohibits unofficial subcontracting and requires the names and addresses of all producers and manufacturers.



The triple bottom line – aka TBL or 3BL – is a sustainability-based accounting method focused on people and the planet as well as profit. Organizations consider their economic, social, and environmental impact to create greater value for both their shareholders and society.

e.g. When aiming to adhere to a Triple Bottom Line approach, brands should focus beyond economic growth and also consider social and environmental concerns.



[uncountable noun]

A set of principles with the focus of preventing waste through design, production processes or lifestyle choices.

e.g. In order to combat waste, the designer experimented with zero waste pattern cutting, or as part of my zero-waste mission I am going to bring packed lunches from home in reusable containers.