The LYCRA company hosts a series of global panel discussions with apparel industry experts on critical sustainability issues facing the industry. Today we look at the waste problem in the fashion industry and reveal the results of a mini survey of brands and retailers.
We’ve all heard that around 85% of clothing ends up in landfills, the equivalent of roughly one garbage truck per second. 1 Plus, today’s consumers are buying more clothes than ever. At current rates and projected population growth, resource consumption is set to triple by 2050. To support this level of consumption, we would need nearly three times the resources we use today, and the Earth simply cannot accommodate it. ² Our current means of production and consumption are not sustainable.
So what do we do about it? We asked this and other questions to our panel which included: Jahwanna Berglund, fashion editor of Odalisque Magazine; Dawn Houghton, innovation consultant at Dawn of Innovation; and Meri Lundahl, head of sustainability at Teraloop Oy. Their feedback was clear: Truly sustainable innovation in the apparel industry requires holistic end-to-end approaches. Although the industry is making progress in some areas, such as fiber recycling and garment reuse, less than 1% of garments are recycled back into end-of-life clothing.
“True innovation is not just about working on more environmentally friendly materials, but also about prioritizing quality over quantity to ensure that the entire cycle from production to consumer has a lower environmental impact,” said Odalisque’s Berglund. Magazine.
Speakers agreed that the industry must overcome challenges and innovate to bring about transformative change when it comes to sustainability, but companies cannot do it alone. Consumers have a fundamental role to play.
Changing consumer behavior
Experts agree that changing consumer behavior is difficult, but some suggest that brands and retailers can drive sustainability education and deliver more sustainable fashion.
“The biggest problem is the overconsumption created by fast fashion,” said Houghton. “People buy more, wear it less often, and eventually most are burned or buried.”
Lundahl of Teraloop Oy explained: “Mostly, the innovations involve new materials, but there is little real progress towards slowing the pace of fashion. High-quality, durable and sustainable materials remain something that a certain group of consumers value, but a large majority of consumers still buy fast fashion. This must be addressed to achieve true sustainability, or new innovations are needed to make fast fashion sustainable “.
Results of the sustainability survey
We asked speakers what they thought would have a greater impact on sustainability in the industry: accept lower profits now to absorb the cost of sustainable materials or start investing now to develop new materials, better processes and innovative solutions. Investing now has earned 75 percent of the vote.
In addition to our speakers, we also reached out to a group of leading brands and retailers. We asked how much they felt recycled fibers would have an impact on reducing the industry’s carbon footprint. Over 25% believe it could have some impact, 36.7% believe recycled fiber would have a significant impact, and 36.7% believe it would have a big impact.
Asked whether using recycled materials from inside or outside the industry would have a greater impact, 40% voted for garment industry waste and 26.7% voted for waste from the industry. outside the industry. “It makes no difference” got 16.7% of the vote, while 16.7% said they were unsure.
Help reduce waste now
Last year the LYCRA company introduced COOLMAX® and THERMOLITE® EcoMade fibers made from 100% textile waste to start using waste within our own industry. These fibers are made up of waste from the cutting room which is collected, depolymerized, transformed into shavings and, finally, new fibers, setting the stage for circularity. Eventually, The LYCRA Company hopes to take back the garments to close their tour. For now, the take-back of pre-consumer waste is a step in the right direction.
Jean Hegedus is Director of Sustainability at The LYCRA Company.
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