In 2012, a documentary Der Preis der Blue-Jeans traced the process of making a pair of jeans. Xintang Town, Guangdong Province, China, is the origin of cheap jeans that cost only 9.99 euros in the shopping mall. "Jeans of Xintang, Jeans of the World" was once a proud slogan of there.

However, that stands in sharp contrast to the pollution problem around the small town and even the Pearl River. A pair of jeans took nearly 100 kg of water with various chemicals in production, which has polluted the nearby soil by heavy metals in excess of the standards.


Fortunately, under the background of industrial transformation and upgrading and environmental protection, many enterprises with serious pollution exceeding the standard have been shut down.


According to UN forecasts, if the global population reaches 8.5 billion by 2030, human consumption of fashion will increase to 102 million tons, which also means that underdeveloped regions in the world may still rely on clothing manufacturing to survive at the expense of the environment.


The pollution of fashion industry is mainly concentrated in water and soil pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, a large amount of waste, etc. Except for the impact of the production process on the environment, the later stage of textile production will also lead to a large amount of carbon dioxide emissions.


Circular economy has been paid more and more attention as a strategy of sustainable development. However, is there any other way to join the ranks of circular economy besides the circulation of old clothes for the fashion industry? In a study published last year, scholars from Australia and Singapore put forward some possibilities through the arrangement for the relationship between waste behaviors in fashion industry and circular economy. 


First of all, fiber waste generated by fashion industry can be classified into industrial waste and "post-use waste". The former includes waste generated in production and plenty of secondary reusable waste raw materials generated in the manufacture of finished products, while the latter refers to finished products discarded after being purchased by consumers, such as fabric products and product packaging.


Many institutions around the world are committed to the research of textile recycling and reuse, and the number of related research materials that have been published has reached more than 200. However, the reason why recycling cannot be popularized at present is that this process involves many benefits such as finance, science and technology, infrastructure and cost efficiency. At the same time, there is no unified treatment method for waste materials in fashion industry, and classification and sorting also require a lot of time and cost. Sometimes it is even difficult to disassemble synthetic materials for separate treatment.


However, it does not mean that the waste generated by fashion consumption has entered a deadlock in the disposal process. If the production process of fashion end products is disassembled into three parts: manufacture, consumption and "after use", scholars have sorted out strategies that can promote recycling in different parts.


Source: The Paper