Summary: Fashion waste is a term used to define the different types of materials that are discarded after the manufacturing process is complete or upon the expiry of the product life cycle. Clothing waste aside, the industry is also responsible for wastewater discharge, plastic waste, and the release of toxic dyes into the ecosystems.
Fashion waste largely relates to the wastage of fabrics and garments. But there are several other wastes that the industry is responsible for. These include resources like energy and water. Non-biodegradable waste such as microfibers and plastics also account for the waste generated in millions of tons by the industry annually.
Besides these physically accountable wastes, there are process-related wastes that the industry is responsible for. These are bad inventory management, over-procurement and stocking, outdated materials, and costs of reverse logistics. These events also take a toll on the environment. Let’s find out how.
Around 90 million tons of textile waste are generated by the industry every year. Of this, only 10% is recyclable and the rest ends up in landfills or dumped in the open. This is just clothing waste. There are other wastes generated by the industry. Here are some of them.
Manufacturing waste mainly comprises cut pieces and textile waste during the production process. These waste materials can be upcycled and repurposed.
One of the major components of fashion waste, clothing waste finds its way to landfills where it results in the release of greenhouse gasses that impact the climate. Slow fashion and second-hand apparel can extend the life of clothes.
Plastics are one of the major components of packaging in the fashion industry. They are non-biodegradable and destroy animal and marine ecosystems. Switching to zero-waste packaging can help mitigate this problem.
Wastewater is a result of production techniques. For instance, producing a cotton shirt can consume up to 3,000 liters of water. Use of dyes and chemical fertilizers results in wastewater discharge into freshwater streams.
Other than chemical dyes, the hazardous process of manufacturing artificial fibers sourced from fossil fuels such as rayon, polyester, and nylon risks the health of the workers and the environment.
Plastic fibers such as rayon and polyester shed thousands of microfibers that are essentially microplastic waste. These microfibers reach the oceans and are destroying the natural ecosystems resulting in the death of marine life.
An underrated waste component of the fashion industry is electronic waste, which compounds its carbon footprint. E-waste can be discarded electronic components such as monitors, computers, and mobile phones. They can also be disposed of wearable techs such as smartwatches, Point-of-sale machines and other equipment used to facilitate sales.
The fashion industry is one of the biggest consumers of fossil fuel-based energy. Along with the other wastes, this results in the industry contributing to 10% of the total carbon effluents in the environment. Switching to renewable measures and automated logistics can help reduce the energy spent by fashion brands.
Lean processes optimize manufacturing and distribution within an organization. Here are some of the wastage in processes, which if trimmed can help make a brand eco-friendly and profitable.
For any clothing and apparel company, bringing down waste is a challenge. But it is necessary to reduce the impact on the environment and also make operations lean and profitable. Discarded garments and cut pieces can be brought down by optimizing the use of fabrics and promoting second-hand garments. Zero-waste packaging can help reduce the felling of trees and dependence on non-biodegradable materials such as plastics used in the industry for packaging. Retail giants like Walmart and brands like Puma and Gucci are adopting zero-waste and recyclable packaging to reduce fashion waste.
Fashinza can assist you in building a sustainable fashion brand. We can get you connected to suppliers for organic fibers, low-impact dyes and eco-friendly packaging.
To know more about low-cost recycling technology connect with us today.