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  • Ben Davis

Textiles: The Worldwide Impact

Updated: Nov 22, 2019

Textile Industry Overview

The textile industry is comprised of clothing, furniture and mattress materials, linens and draperies, cleaning materials, leisure equipment and many other items. This means about 60 to 75 million people are employed within the textile industry. In total, textiles has evolved into an industry that is worth 1.7 trillion USD, as of 2012, with supply and value chains spread across many countries and continents. In addition, the industry is growing at a rapid rate. According to Greenpeace, global clothing production doubled between 2000 and 2014 while the average person buys 60 percent more items of clothing every year. Figures like these mean that the industry affects the environment as well as many people's day-to-day lives.

Textile Waste

The textile industry is largely responsible for the waste problem that people the world over are increasingly aware of. In Hong Kong alone, we discard on average 343 tonnes of textile waste every day, which is equivalent to 16,908 garments entering landfills each hour. In addition, the EPA estimated that the generation of textiles led to 16 million tons of municipal solid waste in the United States. Despite such alarming statistics, the recycling rate for all textiles was just 15.3% in 2015, leaving much room for improvement.

Moving into the future

As a growing industry in both economic and waste statistics, there are many practices that can be adopted for a sustainable future moving forward. One major tactic that needs to be used more is re-evaluating our shopping habits. Around two-thirds of respondents in Hong Kong and China admitted to consuming more clothing than they need. Yielding less to to consumerism, for instance, is a good start. Another way we can curb waste is by increasing and enhancing textile recycling programs, which has been called the next frontier for cities looking to reduce solid waste. Want to learn more about what can be done? Find out more this week where we’ll outline the environmental impacts of textile waste and what is being done to cut down on it.


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