Less than 1% clothing recycled into new clothes: Report

The equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is wasted every second, while less than 1 per cent of the clothing is recycled into new clothes, says a report that talks of a new vision for a circular system. If the situation prevails, it is likely that the fashion industry will alone consume a quarter of the world’s annual carbon budget by 2050.

The vision calls for a new textiles economy in which clothes are designed differently, worn longer, and recycled and reused much more often, according to the report: A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation.  With contributions and endorsements from industry leaders, including C&A Foundation, H&M, Lenzing and Nike Inc., the report has focused on the entire industry to innovate and collaborate towards a circular vision to unlock economic opportunities.

“We are extremely happy about our collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation. Theirs and our initiative on circular fashion complement and enhance one another. We don’t have all the answers yet but we have the necessary knowledge to start systemic change, so it’s time for the fashion industry to commit and push towards a new textiles economy. A joint effort is vital if we are to move the industry in the right direction,” said Global Fashion Agenda CEO Eva Kruse who was present at the release event of the report.

“An estimated $500 billion value is lost every year due to clothing that’s barely worn and rarely recycled. If nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget. As well as being wasteful, the industry is polluting: clothes release half a million tonnes of microfibres into the ocean every year, equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles. Microfibres are likely impossible to clean up and can enter food chains,” the report stated.

“Today’s textile industry is built on an outdated linear, take-make-dispose model and is hugely wasteful and polluting. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s report— A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future presents an ambitious vision for a new system, based on circular economy principles, that offers benefits to the economy, society and the environment. We need the whole industry to rally behind it,” said Ellen MacArthur.

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Renato Gerletti