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The global textile industry is estimated to have used over 109 million tonnes of fibers last year alone. Given the fact that it is the second-biggest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions globally, more and more brands are developing products that are environmentally conscious to meet their sustainability goals.
Every year, millions of tonnes of clothes are produced. Textile production produces an estimated 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2 and consumes 79 billion cubic meters of fresh water annually, which has a direct impact on the planet and the environment. In addition, the dyes used to change the color of fabrics contain toxic chemicals that factories dump into rivers and lakes, degrading the surrounding ecosystems and endangering the health of the population nearby.
For these reasons sustainability has been recognized as a major concern for the textile industry. Action is imperative and innovative manufacturing processes that are not harmful to the environment are urgently needed.
Fabric waste, fashion’s biggest problem
The reality is that 92 tonnes of textile waste are generated annually, which is disposed of in landfills or burned. In fact, one garbage truck full of textiles is landfilled or burned every second according to a report by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Discarded fabrics, which is common in deserts like Chile’s Atacama, takes hundreds of years to biodegrade, damaging the ecosystem and water.
In the textile industry, sustainability extends beyond the use of organic materials and efficient methods. It entails tackling the entire production chain all the way to the designing stage to be more responsible with the materials that already exist.
A circular economy-based approach is the way to go. To keep materials in use, innovative business models and collaboration across the value chain is required.
Reusing fabrics: the way to fight waste
Circular models present a challenge in terms of rethinking how we produce fashion, and use and dispose of them, but they also present tremendous opportunities for new ventures and/or innovative business models that contribute to the sustainable development goals by implementing the 3 R’s approach.
- Reducing: Measuring better the stock quantities needed for production is s a fit solution to avoid waste. However, the industry is still not shaped this way. Companies usually source an extra 5% of the fabric they need to prevent manufacturing mistakes and in-plant problems.
- Recycling: It consists of the processing of fibres and clothing remnants from the manufacturing process. Several governments have proposed measures to improve recycling recently like the Strategy for Sustainable and Circular Textiles by the UN. Although recycling is a great solution to reduce waste, it still uses energy and resources to break down and remanufacture the fabrics, so it only solves part of the problem.
- Reusing. The most efficient alternative. It consists of reusing surplus textile to avoid creating new, i.e. to use the surplus fabrics as raw material for new collections instead of consuming precious resources to create fabrics that already exist. By doing this, brands are contributing to a circular fashion model, the best option to minimize environmental impact since, contrary to recycling, there’s no need to produce new fabrics.
1 meter of Recovo fabric saves around 5,700L of water
If you are a brand in need of fabrics for your next collections, explore our catalogue of circular textiles and contribute to lowering the environmental impact of fashion. You can also try selling your excess fabrics, someone might be looking for them!