The Or Foundation Announces an EPR Fund Agreement with SHEIN at the Global Fashion Summit

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You have supported our work to bring awareness and action around the impacts of textile waste and the efforts of the Kantamanto Community to recirculate millions of garments every week, and you have joined us in the call for global fashion brands to pay the bill that is due to the communities like Kantamanto who manage fashion’s waste.

We have some news…

Today at the Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen, our co-founder and director Liz Ricketts announced a groundbreaking, multi-year agreement between The Or Foundation and SHEIN to create an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) Fund. In a global first, SHEIN will commit $50 Million to the Fund over five years.

The agreement creates an industry template for effective EPR, allowing for financial compensation to flow in the same direction as clothing waste. Otherwise, the framework for EPR currently rests on a French policy that dictates that money is paid by brands to support the collection and the subsequent exportation of secondhand clothing to the Global South as a form of waste management without offering any financial support to the communities managing that waste.

Through this agreement SHEIN acknowledges that their clothing may be ending up here in Kantamanto, a simple fact that no other major fashion brand has been willing to state yet. This acknowledgement is a first step toward our goal of industry-wide reckoning. And the financial commitment, though not representative of the value of Kantamanto and other communities around the world working to clean up fashion’s waste crisis, is a vital tool to begin delivering the tangible change that our community within the Kantamanto ecosystem has been calling for.

As the initial grant recipient, receiving part of the overall Fund, The Or Foundation will utilize the resources to:

  • Expand our Mabilgu Apprenticeship Program for young women carrying bales of secondhand clothing on their heads as kayayei, ensuring that every participant in our Chiropractic Research & Treatment Program has the option of transitioning out of the kayayei trade.
  • Build on the materials and products developed through our No More Fast Fashion Lab by incubating community businesses and extending resources to Kantamanto’s entrepreneurs so they can transform textile waste into new products.
  • Pilot fiber-to-fiber initiatives with Ghanaian textile manufacturers utilizing clothing that would otherwise leave Kantamanto Market as waste.
  • Upfit Kantamanto Market through a community-based vision to ensure that the world’s largest secondhand clothing market is a safe and dignified place to work.

We will also redistribute a portion of the initial grant to allied organizations in Ghana in alignment with the same budgetary ethics we have applied to our work previously. In addition, we will work with SHEIN to identify additional grant recipients in other countries most impacted by fashion’s waste crisis this year and in coming years.

Until now, The Or Foundation has been propelled forward financially by the goodwill of individual citizens and small businesses owners, most of whom are not directly contributing to fashion’s waste crisis itself. This EPR Fund marks a turning point.

Our mission has not changed. We still believe there is too much clothing. We still believe there is not enough Justice. What has changed as of today is that a major fast fashion brand has stepped up to empower a new degree of impact and to tangibly support the people who have been working in service of circularity since long before circularity was an industry buzzword.

We hope you will continue to join us in calling for accountability across the industry and in manifesting a vision of ecological and economic prosperity that inspires each of us as global citizens to form relationships with fashion extending beyond the role of consumer.

For us this announcement is the beginning of a conversation with our network of supporters and friends who are a core part of the work we do. In the coming months we will create time and space to hear perspectives and to further inform our community offline and online on the development of this initiative and the possibilities ahead.

Thank You!