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Fashion industry's sustainability performance has slowed

10
Jul '19
Pic: Global Fashion Agenda
Pic: Global Fashion Agenda
The fashion industry is still far from being sustainable and circular, says a report by Global Fashion Agenda, the leadership forum for industry collaboration on fashion sustainability. The pace of fashion industry’s sustainability performance has slowed and solutions are not being implemented fast enough to check negative impacts of the fashion industry.

The report ‘Pulse of the Fashion Industry 2019 update’ says that a strong ecosystem of collaboration is urgently needed to tackle the roadblocks ahead. Governments and policymakers must play a strong role in creating a supportive regulatory framework. Simply setting circular economy goals and targets alone will not achieve sufficient emission reductions to meet guidelines set by the Paris Agreement.

Instead, a broader approach is required that includes a major reduction in fossil-fuel dependency, just as circular speeds are required and global trends and sustainability considerations such as micro-plastics must be dealt with. Hence, circular actions cannot be seen in isolation because every aspect of the ecosystem is interdependent.

The 2020 Commitment solely focuses on post-consumer textiles to address the important link between the design and end-of-use phase, tying the fashion value chain together. This means that it does not encompass the circular economy in its entirety for the fashion industry. There is strong evidence that supports textile reuse and recycling to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry compared to incineration and landfilling, just as reuse is more beneficial than recycling. At the same time possible rebound effects, such as low replacement rates, induced customer transport and changing market dynamics, must be taken into consideration.

For example, rising competition in the garment collection market is causing tighter economic margins for collectors and professional sorters while collection costs are simultaneously showing a tendency to increase. As a result the lower revenue per collected kilogram of used textiles, combined with diminished demand for used European garments by non-EU markets, dangerously translates into wholesalers being pushed to explore new markets, e.g the lower grade textiles collected nowadays are more often recycled instead of being reused. An urgent need thus exists for a better multi-stakeholder commitment at various levels, between industry players and across sectors.

In the third and final year of the 2020 Commitment, which ends on 30 June 2020, Global Fashion Agenda will continue to support signatories in reaching their targets, with a particular focus on addressing key challenges and developing the four main elements addressed in the 2020 Commitment.

The first element is translating targets into actions. Global Fashion Agenda will ensure that the signatories work on implementing their commitment and see their targets translate into concrete actions. It will continue to monitor and report on their progress, learnings and challenges in next year’s Status Report.

The second element is engaging with experts of Global Fashion Agenda, who will continue to support signatories through knowledge sharing activities and by creating a platform for sharing solutions. Focus will be on organising webinars and piloting online meetings that will bring signatories together with experts in the field to address barriers to change.

The third element is presenting tangible actions in the next year by intensifying Global Fashion Agenda’s engagement with EU policymakers to communicate tangible actions and levers that can create a supportive framework for the targets signatories have set forward.

The final element is raising the industry agenda. Global Fashion Agenda will continue to engage with initiatives and organisations to align industry-wide efforts and solutions, in addition to further exploring circularity in the CEO Agenda, Pulse of the Fashion Industry, at Copenhagen Fashion Summit and at Global Fashion Agenda’s capsule events to ensure that circularity remains high on the industry’s agenda. (PC)

Fibre2Fashion News Desk – India


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