In the textile industry, old is becoming increasingly new

Image: Collected
A clothing company in the Philippines that uses scrap material to create shoes. A technology startup in Ireland that allows strangers to swap little-used dresses. And a fashion house in Brazil that generates zero waste and repurposes old clothes into new ones.

They are three of a growing number of businesses that are bucking an environmentally destructive craze towards fast fashion.

The textile industry, say observers, is definitely primed for a circular makeover.

Amid rapacious demand for low-cost, on-trend clothing, it has turned into a main driver of climate transformation: some sources say that the textile sector makes up about about 8 % of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Producing one kilogram of textiles also uses over half of a kilogram of chemical compounds, and consumes huge quantities of fresh water.

 “The style industry has long been criticized for the impact it has on the surroundings,” said Elisa Tonda, Head of Consumption and Development Unit at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). “Much of that criticism is normally justified. But simultaneously, there is a large amount of innovation happening right now that bodes well for future years.”

Tonda made the feedback ahead of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA), where some discussions centered on what’s known as the circular market, that prizes reusing factors - from beverage bottles to camisoles - rather than throwing them away.

UNEA will also start to see the launch of a worldwide Alliance on Circular Economy and Resource Productivity, established by UNEP, the European Commission and the US Industrial Development Company (UNIDO). The alliance builds on existing regional initiatives (including the African Circular Economy Alliance) to increase transition to a global circular economy through better, equitable make use of resources. In addition, it promotes sustainable consumption, development and industrialization.

A great time for change
The economical recovery from COVID-19 offers a rare opportunity to considerably shift the trajectory of many industries, including textiles.

“Tying financial stimulus bundles to actions that align with the Sustainable Expansion Desired goals and the Paris Agreement will secure long-term resource proficiency and decouple economic expansion from environmental degradation,” explained Archana Datta, a Project Coordinator for India, in the SWITCH-Asia initiative, which usually promotes sustainable creation and consumption.

Circularity and sustainability also get monetary sense for businesses, info suggests. Also before Covid-19, simply 60 % of garments were offered at a high price, creating billions of us dollars of misplaced revenues. Wise product design gets the potential to remove production waste materials and reduce pollution across the processing stage, helping businesses spend less.

Circularity would also come to be good for the weather. Switching to more circular business products, including style rentals, re-commerce, restoration and refurbishment, may help the industry trim around 143 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in 2030.

A green recovery
A UNEP study recently found that to make the style market more sustainable, there must be better “governance” of the sector, more financing for planet-friendly improvements and a concerted work to change the consumption behaviors of consumers.

Several promising initiatives already are helping with the latter. Through a smartphone app, Ireland-based Nuw allows users to swap rarely worn clothes rather than tossing them apart. In the Philippines, clothes company Phinix collects waste textiles and transforms them into shoes or boots and bags. Their goods have just 10 % of the carbon footprint of frequent clothes. Finally, by upcycling and steering clear of plastic packaging, among other activities, Brazil fashion property Refazenda has eliminated its solid waste.

UNEP is creating a good roadmap to greatly help other textile corporations follow the business lead of those businesses. Set to come to be released in June 2021, it'll showcase concrete activities that textile firms can adopt to green their business.