People, Prosperity, Europe, Asia Pacific

Fashion industry lags behind in sustainability: report

Responsible Business | May 16, 2019

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The textile and garment sector is not keeping up with consumers’ demands for improving social and environmental standards, according to a new report by the industry group Global Fashion Agenda, the Sustainable Apparel Coalition and Boston Consulting Group.

The report said that although fashion brands have improved their sustainability performance over the past 12 months, progress has slowed compared to previous years, and that the industry as a whole is “still far from sustainable”.

“Fashion companies are not implementing sustainable solutions fast enough to counterbalance the negative environmental and social impacts of the rapidly growing fashion industry,” the report said. “If the industry does not implement changes at a faster rate, it will not be able to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals or meet the Paris Agreement.”

The fashion industry is worth more than US$2.5 trillion, and continues to grow at more than 4 per cent per year, according to research from the consultancy McKinsey. The majority of profits in the sector are concentrated in just 20 massive global brands, who are under increasing pressure from consumers to address the issues within their supply chains.

Only around 1 per cent of all clothes are recycled, with the rest ending up in landfill. Several large brands, including sportswear giants Nike and Adidas, and high street stores such as H&M and Marks and Spencer have signed up to a pledge to greatly reduce waste and to increase their garments’ ability to be recycled. Some have made steps in that direction. H&M announced in April that 57 per cent of all of the materials that it uses in its products are created using recycled or sustainably-sourced fibres, while in April Adidas launched its ‘Futurecraft Loop’ trainer, which can be entirely recycled.

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