It is no secret that the fashion industry is one of the most polluting in the world, playing a significant role in global carbon emissions. With the urgency of combating the climate crisis on the rise, sustainable innovations are much needed to revolutionise the industry.
Textile usage in the European Union holds the disconcerting distinction of being the fourth most environmentally and climatically impactful consumption domain from a global life cycle perspective, after food, housing, and mobility. It is also the third highest area of consumption for water and land use, and fifth highest for the use of primary raw materials and greenhouse gas emissions. The fashion industry is responsible for dumping up to 20% of the world’s wastewater, which often contains toxic chemicals and plastic microfibres. And if this was not already disheartening, another alarming statistic emerges: around 60% of materials engaged by the fashion sector and 70% employed in household textile goods find their origins in polymers derived from fossil fuels.
According to the European Commission, Europe generates 12.6 million tonnes of textile waste per year. Clothing and footwear alone accounts for 5.2 million tonnes of waste, equivalent to 12 kg of waste per person every year. Moreover, only 22% of post-consumer textile waste is collected separately for re-use or recycling, while the remainder is often incinerated or landfilled.
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