Circular Economy is a restorative and regenerative process that aims to increase reuse and reduce waste in manufactured products. A circular economy preserves and enhances natural capital, optimizes resource yields, and minimizes system risks by managing finite stocks. The role of PLM in creating a sustainable circular economy will help companies switch to a circular product development model.  

Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) software manages the entire product development process from design to shelf. Now, with the recycling and upcycling trend, this approach should change. Retailers believe that once a product is sold it’s the end of product life. But, that’s not true these days. The end of life is when the product is used and returned to the retailer to be given a new life.   

Implementing PLM for circular economy requires executives to have excellence in IT, supporting collaboration among the extended enterprise and the management of multiple lifecycles. 

PLM helps address details like:  

  • Score carding of materials and trims. 
  • Factory conditions where the garment is developed. 
  • Chemicals and dyes used in producing the garment.  
  • The number of materials re-used and given a new use. 
  • The number of garments that can be recycled. 
  • The impact on the environment and the apparel business.  

Generating this data can provide companies with a full overview of the materials that can be reused and make better decisions at an early stage of the development process. 

Role of PLM in creating Sustainable Circular Economy

1. Use of Sustainable Materials  

PLM holds a repository of materials used to make the garment. It also provides score carding for materials that help users make informed decisions to use sustainable materials when producing a garment.  

2. Vendor Score Carding 

PLM system helps apparel & footwear companies to maintain score carding for vendors who are manufacturing the garment based on the factory conditions. Factory conditions are verified by the implementation of labor laws in the factory, whether they child labor, the minimum wages of the employees, etc.  

3. Score Carding Rollup of Garments 

In the Bill of Materials (BOM), the scorecard of the components used on the garment can be cumulated to generate a final scorecard of the garment style.  

4. Style Information with Sustainable Index 

PLM can provide visibility of styles with a sustainable index. Business rules can be set to send the style information to downstream systems and production systems based on the sustainability index.  

5. Re-use, Re-cycle, Re-manufacture 

PLM solutions provide seasonal and cross-seasonal reports for the products. They also provide a sustainable index for products to re-design and manufacture environmentally friendly products.  

Benefits of Circular Economy Enabled PLM 

The role of PLM in creating a circular economy not only benefits the enterprises but also society. Let’s explore the advantages of circular economy: 

  • Promotes Innovation and Infrastructure
  • Responsible Consumption & Production
  • Reduces Carbon Emission & Footprints
  • Reskilling the employees and the enterprise


PLM is a key enabler to digitize the product development process. The concept of circular economy has attracted business executives to create green initiatives for future generations. Now, it is time for the footwear and apparel business to look beyond green to make it a profitable and sustainable revenue stream that becomes its own virtuous cycle.