We are virtually drowning in textile waste. In some countries the answer is to burn this waste and turn it in to energy, but if 1 kilo new clothing represents 7 kilos of CO2 and recycling 1 kilo of clothing equals 4 kilos of CO2 reduction, the math is a no-brainer. The textile recycling business diverts tons of waste from the landfill and helps turn old clothing into usable products.
Product design, labels, packaging, hangers, in-store product wrapping, and shopping bags all contribute to the resource efficiency (or inefficiency) of a product. In today’s apparel industry, fast fashion and trends toward shorter garment lifecycles add to overall waste impacts and stress the importance of reclaiming materials after use and finding new purposes for unused materials. Only a handful of apparel companies are looking for ways to address the inefficient use of raw materials and ever-increasing waste in garment production, retail, and use.
We are committed to the adoption of a closed-loop approach to waste management, where companies take-back product for deconstruction and reuse of raw materials, recycling, or donation to others—extending the product lifecycle and minimizing waste sent to landfill. In addition, we believe in a cradle to cradle approach to product design, where products are designed with their end-of-use in mind, with an eye toward minimizing raw material use in cut-and-sew and packaging, as well as minimizing waste impacts by adopting materials that are recyclable or have a longer lifespan. Products are sold with minimal packaging and in-store wrapping. To change consumer habits and drive long-term change, retailers discourage use of plastic bags and setup product takeback programs for consumers to return used product.
Third Hand designers, as pictured here from Oslo Fashion Week's opening show, show-casing "couture"pieces made from textile waste makes a small contribution to handling the vast amounts of this waste—but we need new and innovative solutions.
Objectives for Immediate Action
– Develop and adopt product design guidelines that establish voluntary guidance for garments that optimize for reduced waste. For example, parameters could be established for raw material choice, packaging, or design for extended/second life.
– Reduce use of bags and wrapping in retail stores by asking customers whether they want wrapping and a bag, charging customers for use, or offering incentive programs for customers that bring their own bag.
– Establish partnership with organization around product take-back and product donation.