Less than one percent of clothing is recycled, as the Measuring Fashion Report shows. In contrast, companies such as Nike, H&M, Burberry and Gap have now signed an agreement to improve the fashion industry’s environmental performance.

On Wednesday, the Make Fashion Circular Initiative announced that Nike, H&M, Burberry and Gap will join the program that focuses on reducing waste production in the fashion industry by recycling raw materials and products.
The British sailing world champion Ellen MacArthur founded the Foundation’s “Make Fashion Circular” program which is dedicated to creating a global movement with the economy in which clothing never becomes waste.

Improved design and clothing rental as a solution

According to director Francois Souchet, “clothing production has doubled in the last 15 years, while the number of times we wear these clothes before we throw them away (and bury or burn them) has fallen dramatically.” In an e-mail he suggests: “This ever-faster model can be transformed into a model in which clothing never becomes waste by improving the design and working on business models for rental and resale”.

Stella McCartney is an environmental pioneer

Stella McCartney was the first to join the program last year and signed the guide to reducing waste and pollution and ensuring the reuse of products and materials. As a long-time advocate of more responsible fashion, the designer used the opportunity to point out that her industry was “incredibly polluting and dangerous for the environment” and invited other brands to join her.

Practical solutions against marine pollution

A report published by the foundation in November revealed the amount of waste produced by industry and the level of pollution, with less than 1% of recycled clothing. For example, 500,000 tons of plastic microfibers are produced annually by washing textiles alone which corresponds to more than 50 billion plastic bottles that pollute the oceans.

Together for a better environmental balance

Together with HSBC Bank, the participating brands will now try to develop practical solutions to rid the industry of these environmentally harmful substances and processes for three years. H&M has set itself the goal of using only recycled materials or materials from responsible sources by 2030 and already 35% of its products are produced according to these criteria.


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Image: istock / AnikaSalsera