Why is recycling a challenge in the fashion industry?
Recycling is the set of techniques aimed at recovering end-of-life products and reintroducing them into the production cycle of new products. In theory recycling is possible in the fashion industry, but in practice it is very complicated to set up.
Indeed, the increasing use of chemical materials and the decline in the quality of clothing represent a real challenge. Nowadays, a large number of clothing items are made from artificial and synthetic materials following extremely polluting industrial processes, as is the case with polyester. Also, more and more clothes are made with several colors and from two different materials (or more), cotton and polyester or wool and acrylic for example, which makes them almost impossible to recycle since they have to be frayed by color and separate the fibers. In addition, the low quality of the fibres does not encourage investment in this process. Indeed, the cost of the operation is often too important, it is very little used although the number of clothes deposited in the dumpsters has exploded in recent years.
What are Luz's solutions?
At Luz, we have chosen to bet on the durability of our products. We produce our collections in two quality materials: organic cotton and econyl, a material made from nylon yarns from recycled fishing nets. The organic cotton we use is GOTS certified. Thus, it does not contain any dangerous products, neither for our customers, nor for the environment (such as aromatic or halogenated solvents, chlorophenol, detergents, formaldehyde, GMOs, fungicides, biocides, or heavy metals). In addition, the colors are easy to separate from each other in case our jerseys need to be recycled (although our goal is to produce quality pieces that will last over time). On the other hand, econyl is a material created from fishing nets found in the oceans that are recycled to create this innovative and more environmentally friendly material.
Why is recycling so important?
Recycling is a key issue for the textile industry since 600,000 tons of clothing are put on sale each year on the French market according to the Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEM), which ultimately creates an impressive amount of waste.
Indeed, by owning more clothes, consumers get rid of more fabrics every year. And, just like production, fashion consumption is unevenly distributed. It is in China, the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom that the majority of consumption takes place (although it is growing rapidly in developing countries). However, the capacity of companies to recycle and recycle materials in these countries is no longer sufficient. Most of the waste is then incinerated or sent to poorer parts of the world, turning into open landfills and destroying local handicrafts among others. Open landfills are also one of the sources of water pollution, a recurring problem in the textile industry.
On the other hand, retailers do not always sell all their products which leads to the loss of about a third of the clothes produced that will never be sold (which represents 600,000 pieces in France according to Sloweare). At Luz, these practices are contrary to our values, which is why we always offer jerseys from our old collections online and in store, in order to sell stocks. In addition, we decided to launch our new active wear collection with Ulule. Indeed, Ulule is a crowdfunding platform with counterparts in kind which allows us to give life to our original, innovative and creative project. We strive to find more and more tools in line with our eco-responsible approach.
Recycling, binding but positive !
Despite all the constraints related to recycling, it is positive because it helps people in difficulty, saves space at home, reduces the cost of raw materials, and offers sustainable and stable jobs.
Indeed, clothes in good condition are repaired if necessary and then sent to a thrift store, resold to the general public or donated. Fabrics that are no longer portable (e.g. end-of-life linen) can be cut and turned into a cloth and then used for industrial wiping. Finally, the "waste" is frayed by color, transformed into new fibers resold to textile manufacturers.
Article written by Marie-Lou Haran