Apparel & Textile Circular Economy

Market Overview

Every year, the US generates more than 32 billion pounds of apparel and textile waste generated from used and “off-spec” apparel, and only 15% is re-used and/or recycled, typically into lower value applications.  The vast majority of the remaining 85% of apparel and textile waste is sent off to landfills or incinerated. Overall, the apparel and textile industry is responsible for 20% of all global waste, 2nd only to the oil industry in terms of contribution to global environmental pollution. 

Contributing factors:

  • Natural fibers, including cotton, require over 100 years to fully decompose while releasing significant amounts of methane and CO2 during the degradation process.
  • Synthetic fibers such as polyester, polypropylene and nylon are designed to last, and decompose over long periods of time, contributing to the global micro plastics problem.
  • Cotton farming represents 24% of insecticide and 11% of pesticide global demand.
  • Water usage is substantial, requiring 5,300 gallons of water in the manufacturing life cycle to make just one single pair of jeans and a T-shirt.

Through collaborative, connected, and transparent circular economy solutions, GearedforGreen Circular Economy® works with apparel and textile manufacturers, retailers and brands, along with specialized supply chain partners across the globe in a variety of fields including:

  • Recollection, recycling and reuse,
  • Redesign, raw materials, research and process development, and
  • Certification, technology, and communication,

to help minimize the collective environmental impacts associated with the apparel and textile industry and to increase sustainability industry wide.

Market Challenge

There are many contributing factors associated with the environmental impacts caused by the apparel and textile industry, and all represent similar, yet distinct challenges.

  • Consumer and market demand for “Fast Fashion” that while allowing consumers to look fabulous with current fashion trends, enables a wear and waste culture,
  • The use and disposal of non-sustainable promotional, corporate branded apparel products and uniforms,
  • Substandard manufacturing processes that continue to over-use natural resources,

As the amount of waste generated by the apparel and textile is expected to increase in the coming years, there is a significant sense of urgency for the industry to begin developing solutions to this challenge now.

GFG Circular Economy Solutions

At GearedforGreen, we concentrate on building Circular Economy solutions that offer real sustainability options for the apparel and textile industry.  Our Circular Economy solutions are broad-based and aim to achieve the most strategic “next life” solution for a variety of end-of-life requirements, including:

  • Collaborating among new and existing recycling and recollection infrastructures to increase recycling rates and to create higher value recycling solutions, especially for blended natural and synthetic apparel and textiles,
  • Expanded apparel reuse collaborations for both industrial product waste and consumer product used in the market, including sharing and donation enterprises,
  • Product and component redesign strategies that can better support “end of use” recyclability for product used in the market,
  • Raw material sourcing and selection plans that can be tailored to better use more sustainable and recyclable materials,

Improving education and awareness between industry and consumers to help drive waste minimization and increase overall sustainability for the apparel and textile industry.

Essential Elements

  • GearedforGreen Circular Economy fully implements collaborative and transparent Circular Economy Partnerships that connect apparel manufacturers directly to strategic service partners offering critical, long-term and committed Circular Economy sustainability solutions such as:
    • Strategic Donation programs that are socially purposeful and strategically enhance brand value
    • Re-Use / resale solutions, that may be combined with
    • Certified destruction and brand protection
    • Apparel / Textile recycling into a variety of alternate applications
    • Designing products for end-of-life recyclability
    • Sustainable raw material supply
    • Retail / brand communications and consumer awareness