The fashion industry is the second-largest source of industrial pollution after aviation.
This is just one of the findings of a new study written by Aalto University design researcher Kirsi Niinimaki, who says fashion accounts for up to 10% of global pollution, generating 92 million tonnes of textile waste per year, consuming 1.5 trillion litres of water annually and contributing approximately 190,000 tonnes of oceanic microplastic pollution.
Research also showed fast fashion, the act of buying more and wearing less, has led to a ‘massive level’ of consumption, with the UK topping a list of the countries with the highest consumption rate per year, at an astonishing 26.7kg of clothes being purchased per person.
This was followed by Italy with 14.5kg, Germany with 16.7kg and Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland with a range of 13kg to 16kg.
Despite the high volume of waste, the survey suggests textile-recycling is not as effective as it should have been – only 15% of post-consumer textile waste was collected separately for recycling purposes in 2015 and less than 1% of total production was recycled in a closed-loop way.
Additionally, 1.1 million tonnes of recycling textiles were lost during collection and processing with another 6.4 million tonnes being recycled into other, lower-value applications, such as insulation material, wiping cloths and mattress stuffing.