Nearly all apparel eventually ends up in landfills, making the fashion sector notorious for its waste issue. Leading companies like Levi’s, Adidas, and Zara are making great efforts to address this problem, though. To change the business landscape and lessen its environmental impact, they are leading the way with creative recycling programs.
The Fashion Waste Issue
The fashion business makes a sizable contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions and waste. About 97% of apparel, 60% of it within a year of creation, ends up in landfills, according to McKinsey. According to the UN, the sector is responsible for 8% to 10% of all global emissions, which is more than the combined emissions of all international flights and maritime shipping.
The Problem with Textile Recycling
Textile recycling continues to be a difficult problem despite the urgent need for sustainable solutions. The manufacturing of garments uses a variety of fabrics, which makes recycling more challenging. A normal sweater, for instance, might be made of a mix of cotton, cashmere, acrylic, nylon, and spandex, each of which requires a distinct recycling procedure.
New Approaches to Textile Recycling
Startups like Evrnu, Renewcell, Spinnova, and SuperCircle are creating creative solutions in response to this issue. To turn old clothing into new fiber, these businesses are developing new business models and technological solutions. For instance, NuCycl, a textile recycling platform developed by Evrnu, can repurpose used clothing to create new fiber that can exceed 90% of other fibers, such as cotton, nylon, and polyester, in terms of price and quality.
Major Brands Are Leading the Way
Major fashion companies are increasing their efforts in sustainability. For instance, Levi Strauss has developed a version of its renowned 501 blue jeans using 60% organic cotton and 40% Renewcell fiber. Conversely, by the end of 2023, Adidas plans to employ only recycled polyester. Aiming to employ only 100% organic cotton, recycled materials, or sustainable materials in all of its apparel by 2025, Zara has likewise established ambitious environmental goals.
The Function of Regulations
Regulations are essential in fostering the recycling of textiles. By 2025, all textile waste must be separated in the European Union according the Waste Directive Framework. Bills to establish statewide textile recycling systems and make businesses responsible for their recycling activities have been introduced in California and New York, respectively, in the United States.
On its path to sustainability, the fashion industry is at a turning point. Although there are many obstacles to overcome, the creative solutions being created by major companies and startups offer a positive way forward. The industry has the potential to turn its waste issue into a solution for a more sustainable future as these initiatives gain traction.
What do you think about recycling’s place in the fashion industry? How do you think these recycling programs will affect the environmental footprint of the sector? Post your ideas and remarks below.