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Stella McCartney & Ellen MacArthur team up to tackle textile waste

By Vivian Hendriksz


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London - The fashion industry's current business model, which sees a huge amount of clothing produced only to be thrown away after a few wears, needs to be changed. A new system is needed to ensure clothes are better designed and last longer before being recycled to make new garments, stresses a new report from leading sustainable designer Stella McCartney and environmental campaigner Dame Ellen MacArthur.

The two authors of the report, entitled A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future have joined forces and are calling on all players in the fashion industry to rethink how clothing is made. The new report, which was launched in London by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation on Tuesday, was created by the Circular Fibres Initiative and urges the fashion industry to adopt a new model.

New report paves the way for sustainable change concerning textile waste

The equivalent of one garbage truck full of textiles is thrown away every second, with less than 1 percent of all apparel produced being recycled. An estimated 500 billion USD worth of textile resources is lost every year due to usable clothing being thrown away or burned. If nothing changes, the fashion industry is on course to consume a quarter of the world's annual carbon budget by 2050, warns the report. In addition to being wasteful, the current fashion industry is incredibly polluting, with the equivalent of 50 billion plastic bottle worth microfibres entering the environment each year.

"Today’s textile industry is built on an outdated linear, take-make-dispose model and is hugely wasteful and polluting. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s report ‘A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future’ presents an ambitious vision of a new system, based on circular economy principles, that offers benefits to the economy, society, and the environment. We need the whole industry to rally behind it," said Ellen MacArthur.

The report presents a vision for a new system which can change the course of the industry and urges players to work together to build it. Revolutionary improvements in textile recycling, a shift towards renewable materials and more support for new initiatives such as clothing rentals and reselling models are some of the key changes needed in order to develop a new model.

"What really excites me about ‘A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future’ is that it provides solutions to an industry that is incredibly wasteful and harmful to the environment. The report presents a roadmap for us to create better businesses and a better environment. It opens up the conversation that will allow us to find a way to work together to better our industry, for the future of fashion and for the future of the planet," added Stella McCartney.

Creating a new textiles economy needs an 'unprecedented' level of collaboration, which is why the report highlight industry leaders such as high street retailer H&M, chemical firm Lenzing, fitness giant Nike and the C&A Foundation for endorsing this vision and encouraging the vital steps needed for change.

Photos: Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Circular Economy
Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Textile Waste