Fashion Industry Could Increase Recyclable Materials, Market Share with New Technology Investments

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The textile and fashion industry could use nearly total recyclable and renewable materials by 2030 if it invests in new technology and infrastructure, which could result in a significantly increased market share, according to a new report.

The Global Fashion Agenda’s report concludes that if the fashion industry invests $5 billion to $7 billion in recycling technologies by 2026, as well as additional capital toward collecting and storing infrastructure, the sector could become as high as 80% circular. The recycling technologies have the potential to use 75% textile-to-textile recycling into the fashion system, the report says. An additional 5% would include recycled materials from other industries.

It says if recycling initiatives are fully implemented it could result in a potential $4.5 billion growth across six major textile markets.

The report finds that investing in recycling infrastructure can be more attractive if there is greater transparency of the demand for recycled materials. It also says there should be a consistent supply of traceable feedstock.

The textile and fashion industry has been busy trying to become more sustainable as it accounts for 4% of the world’s carbon emissions, 20% of wastewater with 70% of the industry’s overall greenhouse gas emissions coming from production, with materials being the biggest polluter.

There have been advances like the Lycra Company making products with 100% textile waste, seeking improvements in wet processing or using tools to improve fabric dying. Still, there is room for improvement as the industry has been shown to lags behind in tracking Scope 3 emissions and could do a better job on sustainability transparency.

The Global Fashion Agenda’s report mentions new efforts like the forthcoming EU strategy for sustainable textiles as further reason to make changes in the industry.

Collaboration, including standardized tracing of waste, assuring supply and agreeing on mutual incentives could help increase implementation of the technologies.

The report also highlights the need to improve scaling systems, including formalizing the waste management sector, providing alternative uses for textile waste and assuring quality materials and demand for recycling outputs.

“The challenge is providing conditions for scaling,” says Global Fashion Agenda CEO Federica Marchionni. “With sufficient investment, supportive policies, and by enabling pre-competitive collaborations, I am optimistic that we can create a profitable circular system and accelerate fashion’s journey to net zero.

The report presents findings from the Circular Fashion Partnership in Bangladesh, which has used the Reverse Resources SaaS platform to trace more than 1,000 metric tons of textile waste there over the past year.

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