10 Surprising Fast Fashion Waste Statistics

extremely harmful influence of fast fashion in the environment is not news. Besides being responsible for nearly 10% of global carbon emissions, the industry is also known for the amount of resources it consumes and the waste it produces. Here are 10 very disturbing statistics about fast fashion waste.

10 statistics about fast fashion waste

1. 92 million tons of textile waste are produced every year

Of the 100 billion garments produced each year, 92 million tons end up in landfills. To put things into perspective, that means the equivalent of a garbage truck full of clothes ends up in landfills every second. If the trend continues, the number of fast fashion scraps is expected to increase up to 134 million tons per year until the end of the decade.

2. Global emissions of the clothing industry will increase by 50% by 2030

If a business-as-usual scenario prevails in the coming years – meaning no action is taken to reduce fast fashion waste – the industry’s global emissions likely to double until the end of the decade.

3. The average American consumer throws away 81.5 pounds of clothes each year

In America alone, it is estimated that there are about 11.3 million tons of textile waste – the equivalent of 85% of all textiles – end up in landfills on an annual basis. This is equal to approx 81.5 pounds (37 kilograms) per person per year and approx 2150 pieces per second throughout the country.

4. The number of times a garment has been worn has decreased by about 36% in 15 years

The dumping culture has progressively worsened over the years. Currently, many items are only worn seven to ten times before being thrown away. This is a drop from more than 35% in just 15 years.

5. The fashion industry is responsible for 20% of global wastewater

Dyeing and finishing – the processes by which dyes and other chemicals are applied to fabrics – are responsible for 3% of global CO2 emissions as well as over 20% of global water pollution. Along with yarn preparation and fiber production, these two processes have higher impacts on resource depletiondue to energy intensive processes based on fossil fuel energy.

6. It takes 20,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of cotton

Besides being a major source of water pollution, fast fashion also contributes to the loss of massive amounts of water every day. If that’s hard to imagine, just think about it 2700 liters of water needed to make just one t-shirt, which would be enough to drink one person for 900 days. Furthermore, a single wash load uses between 50 and 60 liters of water.

7. $500 billion is lost every year due to poor dressing and failure to recycle clothes

The worst aspect of our reckless throwaway culture is that the vast majority of clothes thrown away each year are not recycled. Globally, only 12% of the material used for clothing ends up being recycled. Most of the problem it’s about the materials our clothes are made of and insufficient technologies to recycle them. “The fabrics we wrap around our bodies are complex combinations of fibers, materials and accessories. They are made from problematic mixtures of natural fibers, man-made fibers, plastics and metals.”

You may also like: Is Hong Kong’s avant-garde textile recycling facility a real solution to fast fashion’s woes?

8. Nearly 10% of microplastics released into the ocean each year come from textiles

Clothing is a great source of microplastics because many of them are now made of durable and inexpensive nylon or polyester. Every wash and dry cycle, especially this last one, sheds microfilaments that move through our sewage systems and end up in waterways. It is estimated that half a million tons of these pollutants reach the ocean each year. This is equivalent to the plastic pollution of more than 50 billion bottles.

9. 2.6 million tons of returned clothes ended up in landfills in 2020 in the US alone

Most items returned to retailers by consumers end up in landfills. This is mainly because it costs the company more to put them back into circulation than to remove them. Reverse logistics company Optoro also estimates that in the same year, 16 million tons of CO2 emissions were generated by online returns in the US in 2020 – equivalent to the emissions of 3.5 million cars on the road for a year.

10. Fast fashion brands are producing twice as many clothes today as they did in 2000

This dramatic increase in production has also caused A increase in textile waste before and after production. Due to the number of cuts for clothing, a large number of materials are wasted as they can no longer be used, with one study estimating that 15% of the fabric used in clothing production is wasted. After production, 60% of the approximately 150 million garments produced globally in 2012 were discarded just a few years after production.

Research for this article was conducted by Earth.Org Research Associate Chloe Lam

You may also like: Fast fashion and its impact on the environment

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