The time for change is now.
Sustainability should not just be a buzzword or marketing tool. It should be synonymous with real action towards creating a sustainable future with the entire global professional clothing industry committing to making vital changes towards manufacturing recyclable and circular-ready textiles.
It is time for the industry to come together and ask the question, how do we facilitate textile recycling on a mass scale?
Why should sustainability be leading the direction of companies across the world?
The textiles industry’s significant environmental footprint accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions and 20% of global industrial wastewater pollution.
Annually, the industry contributes approximately 90 million items to landfills across the world. However, rising trends of conscious consumerism and renewed commitments to sustainable development are changing the face of the industry. Emerging recycling technologies are providing nnovative solutions, however, there is still a lot of work to do.
A paradigm of conscious collaboration
Sustainability lies at the heart of PCIAW®. The considerable task of transitioning professional clothing towards a sustainable, circular future is certainly a challenge. PCIAW® understands that collaborative efforts are required, which is why we continue to collaborate with partners like Project Plan B, Worn Again, WRAP and Business in the Community (BITC) to share knowledge and expertise.
The integration of ethical practices throughout the supply chain can help to address issues of excess textile waste, along with energy and water consumption. The industry continues to expand its capacity for circular textile recycling technologies in a drive to reduce landfill waste and achieve circularity on a commercial scale.
Succeeding in closing the loop will be a monumental step towards decreasing the industry’s carbon footprint, reducing demand for raw materials on an unprecedented scale.
Buyers and suppliers of professional clothing must embrace the necessity of recycled fabrics and fibres to ensure that circular textiles become an established norm, but to do this, adequate infrastructure must be in place to spur innovation. In order to accelerate a resource-efficient economy, businesses must reimagine product design and re-evaluate every intricate process in the supply chain. New economic models and sector agreements have the potential to curb material consumption, promoting the growth of the sharing economy. As the industry’s only sector-specific association, PCIAW® is committed to promoting collaboration in all aspects between businesses, consumers, and governments across the world.
Recycling infrastructure needs greater investment and continued innovation to have the capacity to recycle textiles on a mass scale. By supporting suppliers and manufacturers that are adopting the circular approach to professional clothing, the industry can shift the focus onto scaling-up recycling infrastructure to meet growing demand. Buyers and suppliers of professional clothing must recognise that the cost of doing nothing will be higher than the cost of playing catch-up.
COP26 UN Climate Change Conference: Standing up for our planet
This year, it has been announced that the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 will take place in Glasgow, UK from 1 – 12 November 2021. COP (Conference of Parties) is the decision-making body of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. The honorary COP26 Conference will gather delegates from across the world, including heads of state and climate strategists, to establish a collaborative and sustained effort to tackle the issue of climate change. Delegates from far and wide will participate in a summit of global proportions, pooling knowledge and resources to highlight the importance of sustainable practices for the future of our planet.
Leading up to the event, COP26 will collaborate closely with businesses and organisations in the UK to build meaningful dialogues on how to combat climate change and inspire more people to join the initiative.
COP26 is encouraging UK industries to join Race To Zero, a global initiative based on precise, scientific targets to ensure that businesses, cities, regions, investors and universities reach net zero emissions by 2050.
The UK government is supporting many initiatives to support the textile industry, and there is no better time than now to boost innovative models of recycling and circularity.
Government endorses bold new measures
On Global Recycling Day (Thursday 18 March) the UK government unveiled its plans to reduce waste by proposing new measures to combat the devastating effects of textile waste.
These designs are part of the Waste Prevention Programme for England, which analyses how the industry can drive change to permanently minimise waste and develop an eco-efficient economy. The PCIAW® wholeheartedly supports measures to embed ethical practices into the psyche of the professional clothing industry, in every aspect of the global supply chain.
Rebecca Pow, Environment Minister, stated: “We are firmly committed to ending the ‘throwaway’ culture as we build back greener. Major retailers and fashion brands have made strides in reducing their environmental footprint but there is more we must do. That is why, through our world-leading Environment Bill and landmark reforms, we will take steps to tackle fast fashion by incentivising recycling and encouraging innovation in new design.”
The government recognised the innovatory designs of the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan (SCAP), which involved large fashion textiles companies like M&S, ASOS and Next.
PCIAW® has signed a three-year agreement as a Founding Signatory of the Textiles 2030 campaign, bringing the professional clothing industry in-line to guide the way in textile circularity and sustainability. Due to the nature of professional clothing like workwear and personal protective equipment (PPE) being used in harsh environments, garments require extreme durability and longevity, which conforms to strict regulations. However, in trying to meet these specifications, professional clothing is composed of carbon-intensive materials like polyester, which are harder to dispose of. By achieving circularity in professional clothing, we can mitigate the requirement for excess fossil fuels and thus reduce the sector’s carbon footprint.
Looking towards the future, the government is supporting WRAP’s Textiles 2030 initiative for its sustained efforts to curb our environmental footprint. The Environment Bill means that the government can set minimum criteria for clothing on durability and recycled content, as well as exploring ideas to develop labelling and consumer knowledge. In addition, UK Research and Innovation has invested £30 million to build five new research centres to expand UK-based circular supply chains.
Lenzing: the sustainability imperative
Florian Heubrandner, Vice President of Global Textiles Business at Lenzing, has highlighted the increasing trend of eco-conscious consumerism, which encourages brands to initiate responsible practices and implement sustainability initiatives that reflect accountability.
The rise of fast fashion has coincided with the mass use of synthetic fibres which rely on harmful fossil fuels and require extensive energy use, ultimately emitting higher carbon emissions than other fibres. According to The Fossil Fashion Report 2021, just 1% of clothing is recycled, and companies supplying recycled polyester often source raw materials from plastic bottles, not textiles.
An encouraging development is that consumers are starting to implement conscious practices into their everyday lives by opting out of fast fashion in favour of ‘slow fashion,’ which produces longer-lasting garments.
To make a carbon-free future a reality, brands must increase awareness about the environmental burden that synthetic fibres like polyester represent. Additionally, they must urgently implement alternatives to cheap synthetics and support sustainable production processes. The changes brands make now will pave the way for a brighter future.
Contact: Alexandra Steger, Business Development for Workwear (Global)
Mob: +43 676 7915557
Arco accelerates its ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ Model
Arco, the champion of workplace safety, is firmly committed to supporting a circular economy by focusing on innovative ways to adapt its clothing and label product range.
Since joining SCAP in 2017, Arco has absorbed the wisdom of sustainable manufacturing leaders to identify areas it can improve its supply chain. The safety expert has set targets to develop and sustain a ‘fibre-to-fibre’ model, meaning fabrics are recycled and then incorporated into new pieces of clothing. Arco is committed to transforming the ways it buys, uses and reuses textiles and apparel. Danny Hobson, Arco’s Head of Ethics and Sustainability, is spearheading the safety expert’s research and strategy so that it can cut carbon, water and waste across its product ranges.
Arco supports UK-wide business and industry initiatives to drive change on a larger scale. Danny represents Arco in various working groups within Textiles 2030, the WRAP expert-led initiative. The Head of Ethics and Sustainability is also helping to develop the Business in the Community’s (BITC) Circular Economy campaign, which seeks to tackle the climate emergency by making the Circular Economy a mainstream business priority. Arco has joined the Circular Workwear panel to discuss ways to ‘close the loop’ on the clothing manufacturing process and ensure positive supply chain collaboration is agreed upon and adopted.
REPREVE Champions of Sustainability: Milliken and Polartec®
Milliken & Company, the global leader in research and design in performance and protective textiles, has won the acclaimed REPREVE Champions of Sustainability Award. The industry giant received the Textile Partner Bottle Award for its invaluable contribution to recycling, displaying a firm dedication to sustainable advancement. Milliken recycled between 50 to 200 million bottles using REPREVE, the world-leading brand of recycled performance fibre.
Unifi estimates that recycling 20 million bottles saves approximately 1.7 billion litres of water and generates enough energy to power 189,249 homes for 1 year. REPREVE Champions of Sustainability Awards are given to 38 brand and retail partners that have recycled 10 million or more plastic bottles, and 55 textile partners that have transformed 50 million or more recycled plastic bottles through the use of REPREVE performance fibres.
In addition, Polartec®, the premium provider of innovative and sustainable textile solutions, won Unifi’s Billion Bottle Circle Award, the company’s most prestigious recognition. Polartec® recycled over 1 billion bottles and was one of three winners, including Nike and Target. This was the highest Unifi achievement award, signalling Polartec®’s continued commitment to recycling and promoting an eco-conscious future.