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One garbage truck of textiles wasted every second: report creates vision for change

November 28, 2017
Stella Ellen Crop Lr For Media

Today, Ellen MacArthur and Stella McCartney co-host the launch of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s new report A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion's future in London. The report, created by the Circular Fibres Initiative which launched in May this year, calls for the fashion industry to adopt this new vision and create cross industry collaborations to achieve it.

Clothes are an everyday necessity, and for many an important expression of individuality. Yet the industry’s current take-make-dispose model is the root cause of many environmental impacts and substantial economic value loss. Every second, the equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is landfilled or burned. An estimated USD 500 billion value is lost every year due to clothing that’s barely worn and rarely recycled. If nothing changes, by 2050 the fashion industry will use up a quarter of the world’s carbon budget. As well as being wasteful, the industry is polluting: clothes release half a million tonnes of microfibres into the ocean every year, equivalent to more than 50 billion plastic bottles. Microfibres are likely impossible to clean up and can enter food chains.

Today’s textile industry is built on an outdated linear, take-make-dispose model and is hugely wasteful and polluting.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.”

- Ellen MacArthur

A new textiles economy: Redesigning fashion’s future presents a positive new vision for a system that works, and summons the creative power of the fashion industry to build it. In a new textiles economy clothes would be designed to last longer, be worn more and be easily rented or resold and recycled, and would not release toxins or pollution. Exploring new materials, pioneering business models, harnessing the power of design, and finding ways to scale better technologies and solutions are all needed to create a new textiles economy.

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.

- Stella McCartney

Creating a new textiles economy sets a new level of ambition for the fashion industry, and will require an unprecedented scale and depth of collaboration. Industry leaders including Core Partners H&M, Lenzing, and NIKE Inc., and C&A Foundation as Philanthropic Funder, endorse the new vision and report, to which they and over 40 influential fashion brands, leading businesses, NGOs, public bodies, and experts have contributed. McKinsey & Company has also contributed research and analysis. Now the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is calling on the entire industry to rally behind this new vision and to launch a new wave of cross-industry collaboration and innovation to achieve it.

By presenting a clear understanding of the challenges faced and the economic opportunities, as well as practical levers for business, innovation and policy action, the New Textiles Economy report is a vital step in an industry-led approach to develop a global textiles system fit for the 21st Century.

Find out more about the Circular Fibres Initiative.

Download the report infographics here.

Download the report and summary of findings

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