global textile industry

The sustainability of the textile industry remains low

The global textile industry continues to grow at a rapid pace and use more raw materials from unsustainable primary sources, Business of Fashion reports, citing a report from the nonprofit Textile Exchange.

Thus, the annual market analysis showed that after a slight decline in 2020 due to the pandemic, global fiber production reached a record level of 113 million tons in 2021. According to forecasts, this segment will continue to grow and by 2030 will amount to 149 million tons. At the same time, the share of products with environmentally friendly indicators remains almost unchanged.

Thus, in 2021, recycled fibers accounted for 8.9% of all raw materials, compared with 8.4% a year earlier. Most of this volume comes from polyester made from plastic bottles, which is usually not recyclable. The share of fibers made from textile waste, as in previous years, is less than 1% of the world market.

At the same time, the percentage of cotton from responsible sources, including organic, FairTrade labeled and regenerative farms, is declining. After several years of growth, the share of such cotton was 24% compared to 27% the previous year. At the same time, fossil fuel-based polyester reached 54% of all fibers in 2021 (up from 52% in 2020), and analysts predict a further increase in the material’s market share over the course of the current decade, given its lower cost of production.

According to the authors of the study, without radical changes aimed at reducing production volumes, the transition to raw materials with a lower carbon footprint or from alternative, more sustainable sources, and without stimulating innovation in this area over the next 8 years, the light industry will not be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, which is necessary to curb global warming at a level of no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius (compared to pre-industrial levels – ed.).