Read more about the different challenges below:
The industry’s dependence on non-renewable energy sources
In 2015 the textile industry was responsible for 1.2 billion tonnes of CO2-equivalents. Estimates are that the industry’s oil consumption will rise to 300 million tonnes of oil by 2050, the industry’s share of the carbon budget will amount up to 26%, This is because in every aspect of the industry’s production process is reliant on non-renewable resources. The industry heavily relies on oil, estimates are that in 2015 the industry’s consumption of oil was 98 million tonnes. Cotton heavily relies on fertilizers to grow. Chemicals are used in the production of dyes, as well as the finishing of the fibers and textiles.
The use of natural resources and waste production on a massive scale
At this moment the produced clothing is heavily underutilized. Only 1% of the produced clothing is recycled after use. This amounts to a loss of more than €100 billion worth of materials each year. After use 73% of the textiles end up in landfill or incineration. Due to leaks of microfibers in the environment 0,5 million tonnes of microfibers are leaked into the ocean, with negative environmental and health impacts as a result. By 2050 the industry will be responsible for 22 million tonnes of microfibers and plastics leaked into the ocean.
Social problems in the chain
Many textile industry employees in developing countries work under poor conditions. Important social issues are child labour, low wages, forced or trafficked labour, health and safety risks, and local degradation of environmental resources communities depend on leading to negative health outcomes and social unrest.
Awareness in the industry and among consumers of problems in the sector
In recent years awareness has grown among consumers and throughout industry about the negative social and environmental impacts. Efforts are being taken in mitigating these impacts. However, these seem to focus on mitigating the impacts within the current linear system, instead of tackling the systemic challenges that lie underneath the industry’s wasteful nature.