Don't be into trends. Don't make fashion own you, but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way to live. — Gianni Versace (fashion designer)
As a result of fast fashion and the rising demand for clothing driven by the growth of the middle class, in 2015 alone, more than 100 billion items of clothing were produced worldwide. Chemicals and additives in the dyeing process have caused pollution. Garment workers in developing countries are under exploitative working conditions. Published by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, “A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion’s future” report shows that clothing production has doubled from 2000 to 2015, while the clothing utilization – the average number of times a garment is worn before it ceases to be used – has dropped by 36%.
“A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion’s future” also points out that the fashion sector is facing catastrophic consequences on profitability and systemic risks due to the linear and wasteful business model. Every year over USD 500 billion worth of garments is lost due to under-utilized clothing and the lack of recycling. Every second there is one garbage truck of textiles being landfilled or incinerated. If the business-as-usual scenario continues, the fashion industry will use more than 25% of the global carbon budget. In addition to greenhouse gas emissions, each year synthetic clothes release around half a million tonnes of microplastics into the ocean during a washing process, which equals to more than 50 billion plastic bottles.
The textile industry in the linear economy consumes vast natural resources and has negative environmental impacts.
- The textile sector uses large amounts of raw materials and water resources. Almost 50% of water pollution globally is caused by textile processing.
- Every time we wash clothes, millions of microfibers are released, flow into the sewer system, and finally enter oceans. Almost half a million tonnes of plastic microfibers end up in the sea annually, equivalent to over 50 billion plastic bottles.
- The textile and fashion industries produce nearly 20% of global waste. Though 95% of used textile can be recycled and reused, only 1% of the material is used to re-produce clothing. This represents a loss of more than $100 billion each year.
- The textile industry is responsible for 10% of annual global carbon emissions. A finished product has passed through 1,900 kilometers when it finally arrives into consumers’ hands.
If the sector continues the business-as-usual pathway, by 2050, it could use 26% of the carbon budget associated with the 2 °C goal and consume 200 million tons of non-renewable inputs per year. More than 22 million tons of microfibers would flow into oceans within 35 years between 2015 and 2050.
To accelerate the transformation in the textile industry, the Amsterdam-based organisation, Circle Economy, and the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra published a report -- Service-based business models& circular strategies for textiles. The report proposes three main categories:
All the three business models categories have practical cases which will be presented as follows. These cases also provide consumers with alternatives.
A New Textiles Economy: Redesigning fashion’s future
Focusing on clothes worn by everyone, this report leads readers to rethink the global textiles system. The textile economy has changed significantly since 2000. The current system is extremely wasteful and polluting, and it has adverse effects on workers. The trajectory of the industry shows catastrophic outcomes if the trend continues. Therefore, this report proposes circular economy principles for a new textile economy, including moving to renewable inputs, transforming the way clothes are designed, developing innovative business models, and radically improving recycling. To achieve the goal, new partnerships and collaboration are required.
Service-based business models & circular strategies for textiles
This report, in order to inspire and encourage companies to develop new circular businesses, proposes a framework which consists of three types of business models: categories: circular, servitization, and sufficiency. The report includes 10 in-depth cases and analyses their business models, and it provides newcomers with necessary guiding information to further drive the transition towards a circular economy.
Close the loop: A Guide towards a Circular Fashion Industry
How to transform fashion industries into a sustainable and closed-loop system? The website offers circular economy information and guides at every stage of the textile lifecycle from resources, design, production, retail, consumption till the end of life. The website has cases and examples for practitioners. If you and your business want to take the green road and implement circular economy principles, the Planner tool is a good start.
- 紡織產業循環經濟推動策略與作法，財團法人台灣產業服務基金會 FTIS 林萊娣總經理提供
- Polyester and PET bottles are made from the chemical polyethylene terephthalate, which is derived from crude oil and natural gas after complex processes. Using recycled PET bottles to manufacture polyester fabric can reduce 65%-80% of energy (equivalent to 60%-70% of CO2 emissions), compared to virgin raw materials. Recycled polyester fabric has been popular among international garment brands thanks to consumers' strong environmental awareness.（經濟部技術處產業技術知識服務計畫 ITIS, 循環經濟下的資源加值運用, P100）
- What you don’t know about recycling
- New planet-killer: Every minute Taiwanese throw away 438 clothes