As the global fashion industry seeks to reduce its environmental impact and we are inundated with initiatives, terms like recycle and reuse have become more than familiar to us.
Of course, this is nothing new. But how far have we come and how much advancement is the market making at the moment?
Unfortunately, I am unable to provide a definitive response to either of these queries, but it is clear that major global fashion companies are making an effort to minimize their negative effects. The formation of partnerships to address textile waste, a troubling issue the industry is desperate to address, is occurring more frequently. To collect, sort, and sell used and unwanted clothing and textiles, H&M teamed up with waste management company Ramondis last week.
Big fashion brands are increasingly offering reused and “pre-loved” services, as well. Additionally, funds are being invested in the creation of sustainable and recycled textiles as well as alternative fibers.
In addition, a group of researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York have recently been awarded a US$745,000 grant to investigate sustainable alternatives to the synthetic textiles used in fast fashion. Lenzing and Sdra are doing precisely this with Portuguese fabric manufacturer Riopele.
While it is unquestionably the responsibility of those who make clothing to do so in a sustainable manner, governments also have a part to play in ensuring the right policies and frameworks are in place to support businesses in achieving their objectives.
By the end of 2022, the UK government’s Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs was expected to release a consultation on an Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) scheme for clothing and textiles. The Environmental Audit Committee was informed last week that it is unlikely to occur anytime soon because this has not yet occurred.
The delays are impeding progress in addressing the expanding problem of textile waste. Over 300,000 tonnes of textiles are thrown into household black bins each year and sent to landfills or incinerators due to lack of effective policies to deal with textile waste, the Committee warned only a year ago.
This is a problem that needs to be addressed directly and collaboratively by all parties. If any real change is to be made, everyone must contribute, regardless of how they feel.