Analysis has revealed that if clothing consumption rises along with GDP projections, the fashion industry will be producing as many as 2.48 trillion more items of waste over the next 30 years...
The OECD -
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development - has dissected comprehensive reports from the past two years to reveal the huge environmental repercussions of fashion industry growth. Analysis has revealed that if clothing consumption rises along with GDP projections, the fashion industry will be producing as many as 2.48 trillion more items over the next 30 years. If actions aren’t taken to improve recycling efforts, the UK economy could lose a possible £4.48 billion.
Based on current trends, the OECD estimate a 400% increase in GDP by 2050
, totalling £351.5 trillion - £7 trillion of which could be accounted for by the fashion industry.
The research also found that the global fashion industry is responsible for 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2-e and a loss of more than £414 billion each year as a result of wasted clothing.
Goals outlined by the UN Alliance for Sustainable Fashion
call for coordinated action towards tackling social and environmental issues in the clothing industry, including responsible resource use, equal pay for garment workers, and improved recycling efforts.
Such reforms could boost the global economy by £148.8 billion in 2030 - equivalent to just 11% of the current retail value of apparel. The most significant areas for reform are reduced energy emissions (£62 billion), responsible water consumption (£29.6 billion) and improved health & safety practices (£29.6 billion).
This is because it takes 2,700 litres of water to make just one cotton shirt
- or enough water to sustain one person for 2.5 years. Making a single pair of jeans produces 33.4kg of CO2-e - an amount equivalent to driving 69 miles, or watching TV for 246 hours.
When it comes to old clothing, 73% of items are sent to landfill or incinerated each year. This equates to 2,625kg of wasted clothing, which produce 60,000kg of CO2-e just to manufacture. In 2015, this waste represented a global loss of more than £82.8 billion.
The average item of clothing lasts for just 3.3 years
, with the rise of fast fashion promoting an even shorter period of use. As the fashion industry is projected to grow to £7 trillion by 2050, experts predict that the total loss to the UK economy over this period could be as high as £4.48 billion.
However, recycling the estimated 148 million tonnes of fashion waste between now and 2050 would free up £3.7 billion for the global economy by 2030 alone, while reducing projected GHG emissions by 2.8 billion tons of CO2-e per year would save a whopping £62 billion over the next 10 years.
Fashion retailers play a key role in ensuring this economic growth, with an annual value of £12.9 billion to be gained in 2030 if brands commit to increase community spending to 0.7% in line with UN targets.
For more details and a full infographic, take a look at Moneyboat's Fast Fashion Breakdown.