Environmental Pollution Textile Industry

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Environmental impact of the textile industry

According to some studies the textile industry ranks second in the world for the rate of environmental pollution. Every year with the passing of "fashions" our wardrobes are filled with meters and meters of clothing made with fabrics that are harmful to the environment and to our health.

It is good to reiterate that environmental pollution in accountsnuo increase endangers the very future of humanity, and is consequently a problem to be solved as soon as possible:


The consumption of fresh water by the textile industry

Undoubtedly, it takes a lot of water to produce fabrics, as well as land to grow cotton and other natural fibers.

It is estimated that the textile sector used 79 billion cubic meters of water in 2015, while the needs of the entire EU economy amounted to 266 billion cubic meters in 2017. According to estimates (often varying) to make a single cotton t-shirt, about 2.700 liters of fresh water are needed, enough to satisfy the needs of a single person for 2,5 years.

In practice, for every t-shirt placed on the market we give up 2 and a half years of water, precisely while different peoples are dying of thirst.

Textile sector and fresh water consumption

Water pollution caused by the textile industry

Some statistics estimate that the textile sector is responsible for about 20% of water pollution, a pollution mainly due to dyeing and finishing products. In addition, fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides are used to cultivate natural fibers (especially cotton), which penetrate the soil polluting the aquifers.

Industrial and home washing are also no exception. It is estimated that washing our garments releases about 0,5 million tons of microfibers into the ocean per year, including many of these synthetics (the famous microplastics - a single load of polyester laundry can unload 700.000 microplastic fibers that end up in the food chain).

At the same time, these microfibers act as a "taxy" for chemicals, which by decomposing in water only worsen the problem of water pollution caused by the textile industry.

Textile sector and dispersion of microfibres in water

Greenhouse gas emissions from the textile industry

It is estimated that the textile sector is responsible for 10% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than international flights and shipping combined. According to the European Environment Agency, textile purchases made within the European Union alone in 2017 generated approximately 654 kg of CO2 emissions per person.

Really worrying numbers, especially because they are underestimated by most consumers, who in most cases are completely unaware of them.

Textile sector and greenhouse gas emissions

The accumulation of waste caused by the textile industry

The way in which people get rid of unwanted clothes has changed compared to a few decades ago, before there was a tendency to donate between families and friends, today at best they are thrown into the unsorted collection.

Since 1996, the amount of clothes purchased in the European Union has increased by 40% following the sharp drop in prices attributable to the production pattern of the Fast Fashion, which among other things has drastically reduced the life span of clothes. Europeans use nearly 26 kilos of textiles and discard more than 11 kilos each year. Used clothes can be exported outside the EU, but most are incinerated or disposed of in landfills (87%).

Globally less than 1% of clothes are recycled, partly due to a still inadequate technology, often quite expensive, but more than anything else due to the "vice" and "need" of fashion brands to mix fabrics with each other, such as cotton and polyester blends. A blended fabric cannot be recycled.

Textile industry pollution: polluting fabrics

Pollution of the textile industry starts with the production of fibers, yarns and fabrics, but before talking about how, let's see the consequences for us who wear them.

toxic substances in clothing

Science is not yet able to establish the damage caused by man's assimilation of toxic substances used for decades in the textile industry. We know that they circulate in our blood, which are part of human DNA, but apparently our body is able to absorb them as happens with the mercury present in fish.

Unless we have particular allergic diseases or dermatitis, we wear contaminated clothes all our life, unaware of the consequences, but according to science, these consequences will be visible in 50 years and future generations who could suffer serious genetic mutations will pay for them.

Hundreds of toxic substances are used in the cultivation phases of plants from which natural fibers are extracted, especially if we are talking about cotton: one of the most used natural fibers by the textile industry and by people. Even more toxic substances are used in the subsequent stages of production: extraction, spinning, dyeing, washing, printing, etc.

These substances first irreparably damage fauna and flora, then forcefully enter our daily life through the products we buy and which we use extensively to dress.

Colored and rolled polluting fabrics
Water, air, animals and plants transport these toxic substances all over the world also thanks to domestic washing machines, causing environmental pollution on a global scale.

It is not enough to be thousands of KM from the place where the production takes place, because by purchasing products from all over the world we wear them daily and wash them in our homes:

  • Most of the toxic substances used by the textile industry are discharged into the water due to inefficient or even absent purifiers.
  • Excessive use of natural resources such as land and water upset the ecological balance.
  • The exploitation of animals is often accompanied by intensive farming practices that damage the environment irreparably.
  • The chemicals used to bleach and dye fabrics can compromise the environment and the health of the population, bearing in mind that dyeing fabrics can account for the majority of water used in the production of a garment.
  • During painting, about 10-15% of dyes and chemicals used to fix the dyes - often heavy metals - are released into the environment which end up in the sewers, rivers and seas, polluting the drinking aquifers and subsequently assimilated by our organism simply by drinking water from the tap.

Water pollution due to waste water discharges of the textile industry it is a factor that worries the scientific community and that should also worry us consumers.

What are the toxic substances in clothes?

  • Aromatic amines

Carcinogens deriving from azo-dyes, banned in Europe since the beginning of the 90s but which are still sought with assiduity and which sometimes surprise us to be present. It is a list of 24 carcinogenic compounds currently regulated in most of the world (including China).

  • Alkylphenol ethoxylates

In chemical jargon, the acronym APEO, the ethoxylates, and AP, the non-ethoxylates are indicated. They are non-ionic surfactants used massively until 2007 and which are highly polluting for aquifers. Regulated only in Europe (unpleasant surprises often come from China and other countries).

  • Heavy metals

Possible contaminants due to dyes and / or the ways of preserving the fibers. There are about 9 metallic species present in garments of poor quality and dubious origin.

  • Dimethyl fumarate

Strong anti-mold used to preserve natural fibers during long periods of storage. It has the bad habit of being a strong allergen.

  • Chlorophenols

They fall into the family of biocides / pesticides. Precisely for this function they can be found on natural fibers in particular cellulosic. Sometimes they are waste products of certain dyes.

  • Phthalates

Compounds used as plasticizers for PVC (give softness to the PVC layer). Some of these are mutagenic. They are regulated in Europe, America and China (for baby products only).

  • Dyes

Allergenic and / or carcinogenic, regulated only in Europe (some), are a list of dyes of various kinds.

For more information on the toxic substances in our clothing read this article.

When is fashion sustainable?

How to recognize it?

Where to buy it?

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Logo Vesti la natura Verde

Textile industry: pollution caused by natural fabrics

I natural fabrics they are recyclable and biodegradable and this is a great advantage for the environment. The natural fabric most used by the textile industry it is cotton, which plant holds the record for the greatest use of toxic substances during its cultivation.

Not to mention that, even if it may seem absurd, every year thousands of people lose their lives due to the intensive cultivation of cotton: this plant occupies a large part of the agricultural land in the places where it is possible to grow it, many of these are "torn" by force to the local inhabitants who can no longer grow the food products necessary for survival.

In addition, herbicides, defoliants, pesticides and other toxic substances used to stimulate growth or aid harvest greatly increase the rate of environmental pollution caused by the textile industry and contribute to poisoning the local populations.

Most of these substances create environmental damage at the very moment they are used, through absorption by the soil and subsequent infiltration into the aquifers: l'pollution of drinking water caused by the textile industry is certainly one of the most serious consequences for humanity.

Some of these substances are retained by textile fibers and remains there for the entire life of the garment. In part they will be assimilated by our body through direct contact with the skin, and in part nuovly dispersed into the environment following various washings.

We have seen how the intensive cultivation of cotton is one of the main causes ofenvironmental pollution caused by the textile industry, but let's spend a few words on what we define social pollution:

Cotton is grown mainly through the practices of intensive agriculture and this involves the use of large quantities of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers, which pollute the environment and in the worst case make the earth "die", but not only.

Farmers in developing countries are not equipped with suitable masks or safety equipment to use these chemicals, many of them live in direct contact with contaminated lands, grow and eat polluted food, fall ill withnuo, they die.

Although cotton harvesting is often automated, the textile industry continues to be heavily dependent on cheap labor.

We are also talking about wool, the natural fabric of animal origin par excellence: we all know that intensive breeding of animals destined for slaughter, for the production of milk, meat or wool, are one of the main causes of the greenhouse effect and consequently of global warming. To this we add the cruelty with which animals are raised, and the unorthodox methods with which we "snatch" the resources we need from these poor creatures.

Linen e hemp on the other hand, they are natural textile fibers that are less harmful to the environment, both due to the much lower quantity marketed compared to cotton and wool, and because the use of toxic substances is limited compared to the latter.

Read our guide to natural fibers.

Textile industry: pollution caused by artificial fabrics

I artificial fabrics they are often biodegradable, but difficult to recycle. Despite this, we consider them the best choice from an environmental point of view after the biological fabrics, since the most modern have reached a good level of sustainability.

Environmental pollution of the textile industry caused by artificial fabrics has drastically reduced in recent years, thanks to science, but also to international pressure from non-profit organizations such as GreenPeace and the citizens who support them: people are starting to make their voices heard, pushing fashion brands towards the 'textile innovation sustainable.

Man seems born to destroy, but we are good at creating and then solving problems. Problems that we could avoid solving in 30/40 years, by making a simple and conscious choice today: look at the labels before buying a product.

Artificial fabrics are composed of a part of organic raw material, mixed with chemicals to create2 a form of viscose. There are different types on the market, mainly derived from cellulose vegetable or waste from the food industry (oranges, corn, milk, etc).

Read our guide to man-made fibers.

Textile industry: pollution caused by synthetic fabrics

Most synthetic fabrics they are recyclable, but not biodegradable since they derive from petroleum. It goes without saying that oil and its derivatives are a plague for the ecosystem, but the environmental impact of the textile industry derives mostly from the two most used synthetic materials in the world:

  • The production of nylon creates nitric oxide, a greenhouse gas 310 times more potent than carbon dioxide.
  • Polyester uses huge amounts of water for cooling and the lubricants used in its production are a major source of contamination.

Undoubtedly, these and other synthetic materials allow us to buy low cost clothing, given the low production costs and the ease with which they can take on shapes and technical characteristics. And some have become fundamental for the fit, just think of stretch fabrics.

The environmental problems caused by their production, those that come later due to the release of microplastics at each washing, and those of disposal at the end of their life, easily take a back seat.

But the textile industry can make synthetic fabrics without harming the environment, since it is perfectly capable of developing alternative materials with a reduced environmental impact.

The problem is costs, because we consumers are not yet ready to "spend more" to protect the environment, consequently fashion brands will continue to use polluting fabrics until we change our purchasing habits.

Read our guide to synthetic fibers.

Textile industry: pollution caused by yarns

The basic element from which everything starts is the thread and not the set of weaves that with skill, imagination and experience, weavers from all over the globe, based on their centuries-old experience, are able to marry in a textile wedding .

If we consider the fabric as a raw material, then the pizza chef should consider that flour is not the initial element for his creations, but rather the next step, that is the dough where flour and water have already created that intertwining which then, enriching themselves with other wonderful and tasty ingredients, it becomes that dish so popular with Italians.

The raw material is in fact the fillets, not the fabric ..

Having established this, I propose an analysis on the ecological impact that some of the most common have textile fibers. In my opinion, this is an analysis that will lend itself to innumerable criticisms, but which could nuoopen an open and constructive debate.

The textile fibers that you will find indicated are the traditional ones and therefore not those recycled, biological, modified, etc. The fibers most commonly used (the production data of the last three years speak very clearly) and most commonly processed in the textile / clothing sector.

You will also find elastane: yes, because we unwittingly dress this raw material in the vast majority of clothing items we wear. There is a biodegradable version, but it is impossible to find (as on the other hand almost all imported fibers).

Following one of the arguments that brought about 50.000 people in the streets of Milan to demonstrate against climate change (although I personally think it was the most concrete opportunity to sensitize each of us to a general change in our systems of life a little 'too wicked), I hope that this image invites reflection and some reasoning about it:

Environmental impact of yarns in textiles

Textile and fast fashion industry

Fast fashion was born in the nineties and initially had the aim of reproducing the famous 'seasonal trends' seen on high fashion catwalks, but at a lower cost and accessible to the masses: encouraging consumers to follow and buy the fashion of the moment, not taking into account the quality of the clothing and its longevity.

Today things have changed a bit, fast fashion has evolved into super fast fashion also offering products of good quality. By updating the shop windows as frequently as possible, producing up to 50 micro collections in a year compared to the classic two collections we were used to.

The textile industry is able to produce in extremely short times, and the fashion brands that follow this trend (especially large distribution chains such as H&M, Zara, etc) constantly change the goods displayed in the shops, eliminating the classic Autumn / Winter and Spring / Summer collections, so as to attract customers to buy clothing that is always in step with the times.

Environmental problems caused by the textile industry

But if the demand for sustainable clothing increases in the coming years (as we hope), fashion brands will have to adapt to the market, abandoning the production model of fast fashion.

If you want to contribute to this evolution, "take the habit" of reading product labels before buying and looking for textile certifications.

The consumption of resources of the textile industry

In 2008 (United States) textile production was estimated at 60 billion kg of fabric and the estimate of the energy and water needed to produce this amount of tissue was really high:

  • 1.074 billion kWh of electricity;
  • 132 million metric tons of coal;
  • Between 6 and 9 trillion liters of water.

Clearly the production of the textile industry does not concern only clothing, but also sheets and blankets, curtains and sofas, and other materials commonly used in homes, such as tablecloths and microfibre cloths. In 2006 the production of these fabrics contributed to approx 1 tonne of CO2 emissions out of 19.8 total.

This is certainly one of the reasons that pushes us to sponsor the diffusion of sustainable fashion. The starting point is ecological fabrics, therefore all those certified materials with low environmental impact, which could immediately replace all the less sustainable "old fabrics", thanks to the rapid evolution of what we define textile innovation.

Unfortunately, despite the internet and all the information it offers us, it is really difficult to assess the carbon footprint of each individual fabric, so what we can do (for now) is to rely on textile certifications. We know that there are certified fabrics on the market, we consider them ecological, and we prefer them to those that do not have certifications.

Fashion and sustainability should go hand in hand, buying sustainable clothing equals reduce the impact of the textile industry on climate change.

Water consumption of the textile industry and the Sweden Textile Water Initiative (STWI) program

Lo Sweden Textile Water Initiative (STWI) is a program aimed at improving the environmental performance of the industries that supply the biggest fashion brands.

“When they join the STWI network, brands join the largest global program with experience in work and supply chains. We offer business intelligence, networking and become part of the first global network of factories to improve resource efficiency. Together with member brands we build good relationships, good citizenship and a better impact”Sweden Textile Water Initiative

STWI logo

The Sweden Textile Water Initiative program creates guidelines for achieving greater sustainability in the manufacturing industry.

Assuming that common guidelines for all pave the way for real change, they provide textile manufacturers with clear instructions on how to work to improve water efficiency, water pollution prevention and wastewater management in their processes. productive:

Programs like STWI are really useful in this area since the textile industry is regarded as the third largest user of water globally (after the oil and paper industries).

In fact, it is estimated that the textile industry currently uses approx 1,5 trillion liters of water a year, that is 2% of all drinking water extraction and 1/10 of the water used by all world industries.

To this, it seems only right to add that today around 750 million inhabitants in the world do not have access to drinking water.

The impact of the textile industry on water seen in numbers

The textile industry relies on water throughout the manufacturing process of textiles and garments, for example they are needed on average 10.000 liters of water to grow just 1 kilogram of raw cotton.

Obviously the manufacturing processes of a textile product are innumerable:

All textile production processes

For example, the threads are prepared for weaving through a process called "sizing", in practice the yarns are coated with chemicals to reduce their roughness. Sizing enables the weaving process and improves the processing behavior of the yarns, making it an indispensable operation.

Unfortunately, however, the chemical agents must be removed by washing, which causes an enormous consumption of water and at the same time a considerable pollution: the wastewater is discharged into the sea or rivers, often without any filtering of harmful substances for the environment, animals and human health:

  • 20% of water pollution comes from textile treatments and dyes;
  • 22 liters of polluted water is poured into rivers every day in Balgladesh alone;
  • 200 thousand tons of dyes are released into the environment through the textile wastewater;

It is estimated that a medium-sized textile industry (about 8000kg of fabric per day) you consume approximately 1,6 million liters of water per day.

Data in hand it is estimated that as much as 16% of this is consumed in dyeing and 8% in printing. It is good to know that the dyeing processes contribute between 15 and 20% of the total waste water flow, which is why this process is considered one of the most polluting in the world among all the industries present in the global market.

Suggestion: today it is possible to dye while minimizing the environmental impact thanks to Dry Dye technology or with the help of carrier particles

However, water is also necessary to wash the fabric and yarn once dyed and printed, especially to obtain the solidity of the dyes. Washing agents such as caustic soda and enzyme-based soaps are used for this purpose. It is also necessary for cleaning printing machines, frames and dyeing vessels.

As already mentioned, the textile industries dump millions of liters of these effluents into rivers, effluents that are rich in hazardous toxic waste:

Toxic substances in the textile industry

Sulfur, vat, dyes, nitrates, acetic acid, soaps, chromium, compounds and heavy metals such as copper, arsenic, lead, cadmium, mercury, nickel, and cobalt, as well as some auxiliary chemicals, formaldehyde, softeners based on hydrocarbons, finishers, all seasoned with a high temperature and a high pH of the water, are safely discharged into rivers or seas.

Suggestion: read this article to find out more about the toxic substances used in textiles

This mixture of toxic substances, together with the colors and the oily foam formed, increases the turbidity of the water, which also interferes with the mechanism of oxygen transfer between air and water, as well as irreparably compromise the fauna and flora of these places.

The water flow of rivers is then used in agricultural fields, which results first in contaminated products even before they develop, and subsequently in a loss of soil productivity.

There is evidence that wastewater flowing into drains corrodes sewer pipes, heavily affects drinking water quality, and is a breeding ground for the spread of bacteria and viruses.

The STWI program can reduce the water consumption of the textile industry

The results of the program Sweden Textile Water Initiative are undoubtedly remarkable, not only for reducing the water consumption of the textile industry, but as we will see from the following numbers it has done much more reaching different objectives linked to the 2030 agenda:

2030 Agenda Goal 6
Objectives achieved:
  • 11 million cubic meters of total water savings
  • It corresponds to the daily needs of 220 million people
  • Corresponds to the requirement annuo of 0,6 million people
2030 Agenda Goal 7
Objectives achieved:
  • Electricity consumption reduced by 79 million KwH
  • Gas consumption reduced by 31 million cubic meters
  • Reduced use of fossil fuel by 705.309 tons
  • Greenhouse gas emissions reduced by 464.766 tons
2030 Agenda Goal 12
Objectives achieved:
  • Chemical use reduced by 24 million kg
  • 2.083 projects completed during the program
  • 100% of the factories have improved their Environmental Management System
2030 Agenda Goal 17
Objectives achieved:
  • 5 countries (Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, India and Turkey)
  • 276 factories involved in the program
  • 13 brands with establishments in the program
  • 19 additional brands in the STWI network
  • Partnership with local stakeholders
  • Partnership with SIDA
2030 Agenda Goal 8
Objectives achieved:
  • 37.454 workers trained through awareness sessions in factories
  • 1367 management executives trained in energy and water efficiency, and chemical management
  • 412.283.545 SEK (Swedish krona) invested by the factories in long-term projects
  • 325.109.944 SEK saved by factories in operating costs
  • ROI projects within 15-18 months (return on investment)

We therefore hope that they can continue to work from this point of view, and also that other useful and ambitious projects like this one can be born.

The impact of the textile industry on climate change

We are all aware of global warming and climate change, both we mere mortals and those who govern us; the attention of the media is directed above all to means of transport and fossil fuels, considered the main causes of the problem.

While knowing that the textile industry is among the most polluting in the world, as well as the 5th contributor in order of "importance" for CO2 emissions, it is often totally ignored.

Carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse GAS, it captures the sun's heat and prevents it from returning to where it came from (space), thus contributing to global warming.

Unfortunately we do not have great statistical data regarding the impact of the textile industry on climate change, so we will show the ones we found despite being a few years ago and mainly concerning the soil of the United States, with the awareness that these have worsened by far in these last few years.

Impact of synthetic and natural fabrics on climate change

If you don't know the difference between natural, man-made and synthetic fabrics we recommend that you read on this article.

To the detriment of what one might think, even natural fibers have their impact, although on average they are lower than synthetic ones. Field preparation, planting, irrigation, mechanical harvesting, the use of manure or even worse the use of chemicals such as herbicides, fertilizers, pesticides.

Especially the latter have a significant impact in terms of CO2 emissions: to produce 1 ton of fertilizer it is estimated that about 7 tons of greenhouse gases are emitted into the atmosphere. It is an interesting statistic, but also a number that leaves the time it finds, since tens if not hundreds of variables would have to be evaluated starting from the "environmental attention" placed by the manufacturer.

When we talk about synthetic fibers, the situation becomes dramatic, as they are produced from fossil fuels. Disproportionate amounts of energy are used in the extraction of oil from the ground, as well as in the production of polymers.

We read this study conducted by the Stockholm Environment Institute, who concludes that the energy used (and therefore the CO2 emitted) to create 1 ton of synthetic fiber is much higher than producing the same amount of natural fiber extracted from cotton and hemp.

This simple table shows the KG of CO2 emissions per ton of spun fiber:

MaterialCultivationProductionTotal CO2
Organic cotton0.91.452.35

As you can see, the emissions produced by a synthetic fiber such as polyester are almost double compared to cotton, which we remember is the natural fiber with the greatest environmental impact (being grown intensively).

The speech is very different for the organic cotton, which has a much lower impact than other materials.

We also keep in mind that there is not only polyester as a synthetic fiber, and that although this is the most widespread it is not the most polluting. For example, it is estimated that acrylic fiber has 30% more CO2 emissions than polyester, and that nylon is even higher. The latter also emits N20 gases into the atmosphere, which are 300 times more harmful than CO2.

Now let's see another interesting table, that is the energy consumption in the production of 1 KG of fibers:

MaterialKilowatt hour (kWh)

To give you a clearer idea of ​​these numbers, know that a latest generation washing machine with water at 90 ° consumes about 1,9 kWh. This means that producing 1 KG of nylon is equivalent to the energy consumption of 35 washes in the washing machine at 90 °.

These data show that a natural fiber has a much lower impact than synthetic fibers, both in terms of CO2 emissions and in terms of energy consumption. Beyond this, natural fibers offer other useful benefits to combat climate change caused by the textile industry:

  • They are biodegradable and improve the soil structure (at least when they are not loaded with toxic substances); synthetic fibers do not decompose, releasing heavy metals and other additives into soil and groundwater (as clothing often ends up in landfills).
  • They are recyclable, even if their yield is not yet sufficient to define it as 100% recycling; recycling of synthetic fibers requires costly separation, while incineration produces pollutants.
  • They absorb CO2. For example, jute absorbs 2,4 tons of carbon dioxide per ton of dry fiber (chlorophyll photosynthesis).
Chlorifyl photosynthesis of plants

Natural fibers come from plants and since primary school they teach us how important they are for our very survival.

So let's imagine if the cultivation of these plants followed the standards of organic farming rather than intensive farming, it would give even more value to our words: organic farming can in fact guarantee a series of environmental, social and health benefits.

Organic farming, textile industry and climate change

We can say that organic farming reduces the impact of the textile industry on climate change why:

  • Save 63% of energy in production;
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 43% during production;
  • Each hectare of cultivated land seizes between 100 and 400kg of carbon per year. This contributes and further reduces the greenhouse gases released into the atmosphere.

Carbon sequestration is essential to reduce global warming, the key lies in the manipulation of organic matter (OM): 60% of the organic substance present in the soil is composed of organic carbon, consequently the greater its presence, the greater it will be the presence of organic matter (source of life).

While organic farming builds a solid foundation for plant life, intensive farming is notorious for rapidly depleting all available resources, making up for it with massive use of chemicals.

The textile industry occupies a large part of the arable land, but certainly the food industry is a step forward in terms of hectares occupied. Organic farming is an underrated tool in the war on climate change, but it could be a powerful weapon to use to win the war:

  • Excludes the use of synthetic fertilizers, pesticides and genetically modified organisms (GMOs), improving human health and biodiversity;
  • It conserves and keeps water clean, reducing irrigation needs and erosion, as well as offering a source of life (drinking water) to local populations;
  • They sequester atmospheric carbon like forests do, but are less vulnerable to logging and fires, so they can keep it in the ground longer (reducing greenhouse gases and global warming).

There is a "yield" problem with organic farming, in the sense that for the same cultivated land it offers less raw material / fruit, which is why it is attacked by those who do not see it as a solution, but I am sure that it does not this is the real problem, but the usual economic advantages of large multinationals that make billions selling chemicals.

The problem of yield per hectare can be solved, but the economic one will be much more difficult to tackle.

How to reduce the environmental impact of the textile industry?

How can we get out of this phase that promises to be increasingly difficult and complex?

The future could be our past. Every sphere of expression has always drawn on the past to find nuogoes energy and nuovo impulse (even creative), to understand what has been done to understand how we are made and to give birth nuove solutions.

La nuoThe strategy of the European Union aims first of all to address the problems of waste produced by the textile sector, providing guidelines for achieving high levels of separate collection.

Under the waste directive approved by Parliament in 2018, EU countries will be obliged to collect textiles separately by 2025.

La nuoThe strategy of the European Commission also includes measures to support circular materials and production processes, address the presence of hazardous chemicals (improving the REACH) and help consumers choose more sustainable textiles.

The EU has a certification called the EU Ecolabel assigned to producers who meet certain ecological criteria and which they can apply to their products, guaranteeing a limited use of harmful substances and a reduction in water and air pollution.

It also introduced some measures for mitigate the impact of textile waste on the environment.

Horizon 2020 (a funding program created by the European Commission) funds the RESYNTEX project - which we talked about in this article- a truly cutting-edge project that uses chemical rather than mechanical recycling, and which could provide a business model based on the circular economy for the global textile industry.

Huge potential to revive the economy.

"Europe is in an unprecedented health and economic crisis, which reveals the fragility of our global supply chains," said Chief MEP Huitema.

"Stimulate nuothere innovative business models will in turn create one nuoeconomic growth and the job opportunities Europe will need to recover "

To deal with decision the impact of the textile industry on the environment, the European Union wants to accelerate the transition to the circular economy.

In March 2020, the European Commission adopted a nuovo action plan for the circular economy, this plan includes an EU strategy dedicated specifically to our sector. The plan is aimed at stimulating innovation and / or promoting reuse within the textile sector.

In February 2021, Parliament adopted a resolution on nuohe action plan for the circular economy that requires additional measures to achieve a zero-carbon, environmentally sustainable, toxic-free and fully circular economy by 2050.

These additional measures, to be achieved by 2030, include:

  • Stricter recycling regulations;
  • Binding targets for the use of materials;
  • Constraints for the consumption of resources (especially water and energy);

As far as we're concerned, a more emotional approach could also help:

Re-evaluate the productive and stylistic traditions, return to the discovery of local productions with short supply chains, recreate and revive the sector corporations (but in a local form), bring the world of school closer to that of business.

Raise the quality level, laughing nuothe ancient “Made in Italy” goes to life (the modern one is only a substitute for what it really was). A recipe made of simple and well-known ingredients, which would allow us to return to the international markets with our ancient “icons” that have always distinguished the productions of the old and tired Italian boot.

Re-evaluate local natural raw materials, perhaps enriching them with essences that nature gives us every day; deepen research on tinctures with natural dyes; shorten supply chains to reduce costs and pollution; involving local communities with social actions of real support (and not clearing one's conscience with simple donations); open the doors of companies to students (making them passionate about textile traditions); support the associations of the sector and that they disclose.

But most of all, to bring ancient culture back to the center of knowledge.

Increase skills to bring the human being back to the center of this nuovo universe. Let us not allow ourselves to be overwhelmed by modernity and technology, but instead learn to use it with care and attention, without ever serving ourselves: it is technology at our service, not the other way around.

Zero carbon emissions by 2050 for the textile industry

Zero emissions is a decidedly ambitious goal for the textile industry, even we are talking about almost 30 years of time, but climate change is a problem to be faced today and, being the textile industry among the most polluting in the world, it is at the same time one of the first responsible for such changes.

So we ask ourselves: why let all this time go by?

Le nuoThe measures added in 2021 help to cut the time, since they set the goal for 2030, but what will happen if the big fashion brands, perhaps by mutual agreement, do not reach them? The first thing that comes to mind, and which we have seen over and over, is the magical word "extension".

Anyway, as part of the proposals, the deputies asked the textile sector nuove measures against microfiber loss and stricter standards on water use.

“The principles of circularity must be implemented at all stages of a value chain to make the circular economy a success. From design to production, up to the consumer. " said Jan Huitema of Renew Europe.

We fully agree. In fact, for some time we have affirmed that many brands are focusing on the use of materials with low environmental impact, but few try to understand that most of these materials, once chemically treated, will no longer be recyclable, which means to say that they too, like the “less ecological” materials, will end up in undifferentiated collection, in landfills, and subsequently in incinerators.

So think that the use of these recycled materials, perhaps derived from the fashion of the moment (see AppleSkin, Vegea, Piñatex, Malai, Fruitleather, Mylo) could be the solution to the problem? even if they are not recyclable or biodegradable materials?

Obviously they are not the solution, but perhaps we can consider them as part of the ecological transition of the textile sector.

See the official press release of the European Union

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We are a non-profit association engaged since 2016 in the promoting a more ethical and sustainable fashion.

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