The fashion industry reacts to global waste issue

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Fashion brands, established and fledgling, are recognising the need for a circular economy within the industry

The concept of recycling is not a new one for the fashion industry, or indeed for the fashion conscious individuals amongst us; in fact, in recent years, vintage clothing has become as stylish as the newest branded looks and even young people are scouring the charity shops looking for that stand-out piece.

However, the fashion industry is opening its eyes to the reality of the situation, as designers across the globe begin to recognise the need to do more if the world is to collectively get a grip on the global waste epidemic which is threatening the world’s environment, seas and landscape.

The fashion industry is recognising the benefits of material recycling

Primark is also doing its bit to reduce clothing waste

According to the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), over 350,000 tonnes of waste textile and clothing is produced in the UK alone; figures suggest that this amount of material is worth around £140m. That is a staggering amount of money that could be saved by the fashion industry.

Designers throughout the world are becoming conscious of their moral duty, as both manufacturers and human beings, to create fashion produced from recycled materials. And its not just the environment that wins, eco-friendly designers can enjoy the financial benefits of using sustainably sourced materials.

One fashion brand experimenting with discarded materials is Worn Again, founded by designer Cyndi Rhoades. Worn Again is focused upon perfecting chemical textile recycling, which Cyndi Rhoades believes is the way forward for achieving a “continual cycle”.

At the moment, Worn Again is concentrating on recycling cotton and polyester clothing, the two most commonly used fashion materials throughout the world. The chemical recycling process involves the dissolution of used clothing (or indeed plastic bottles) to produce a raw material which is then made into a yarn and used to create new garments.

Big fashion names, including Calvin Klein, Adidas, and Nike, are also stepping up to the plate. British actress, Emma Watson, attended the Meta Gala in New York earlier this year wearing a Calvin Klein gown produced from recycled plastic bottles.

WRAP has launched two clothing waste schemes: the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP) and the European Clothing Action Plan (ECAP), both of which have attracted a lot of attention within the fashion industry, including from high street giant, Primark, which said at the edie Live resource efficiency event:

“Primark will join SCAP and they will also join ECAP. We already work closely with Cotton Connect and we’re very much engaged with reducing water. We know that cotton is the biggest water user in the clothing chain. We’re all over it like a rash.”

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