Textile recycling innovation challenges clothing industry
Tonnes of old clothes end up in landfill. Manufacturers and fashion houses need to think harder about recycling
With reprocessing many textile fibres a challenge, dumping old clothes is often taken as the easy option.
Thanks mostly to retailers such as H&M, C&A, and Inditex (the owner of Zara), fashion has become far more affordable to millions of consumers. Once fiercely protective of their brands, high-end designers Roberto Cavalli, Matthew Williamson, Sonia Rykiel, and others have collaborated with H&M, bringing fashion-forward styles to the masses.
Cheap fashion, however, has a cost. The World Wildlife Fund has estimated that it takes 8,500 litres (2,245 gallons) to raise 1kg (2.2 pounds) of cotton lint – enough to make one pair of blue jeans. The use of pesticides and fertilizers, in addition to water, makes the global textile industry one of the most polluting and waste-generating sectors in the world. Plenty of companies boast about apparel made from PET bottles, but when that item of apparel is no longer wanted, its disposal once again becomes a nagging issue.