Eco-textile: Why eco-design textile products? #51


It is high time to multiply eco-design approaches in the textile sector, given the current stakes and the scope of the sector.

But where to start?
Among the existing variety of textiles, clothing is an essential and permanent need because we wear them constantly. They are included in our cultural and social codes, which explains this very pronounced consumer link.
The fashion industry encompasses multiple players from diverse sectors, scattered all over the world.
Clothing thus expresses the complexity of the textile industry; this is why we will focus our eco-design approach on clothing. Our thinking can then be adapted to household linen and furnishing articles.

What does the textile sector represent?
100 billion garments are sold every year in the world, i.e. an average of 9.5 kg bought per person in France. Production has doubled between 2000 and 2014 (Source: Ademe).
The market has partly developed thanks to the fall in clothing prices due to the relocation of textile factories to countries with low production costs.
But it is also the appearance of a new business model which has made it take off: fast fashion, or disposable fashion. This concept implies the passage from two collections per year to more than ten. The sale of large volumes at low prices and low quality has changed the consumer’s perception of clothing. Today, their lifespan has been halved and yet a third of our wardrobe has not come out of the wardrobe for at least a year (Source: EEA).

Taking responsibility for our environmental impact
The textile industry consumed more than 79 billion m3 of water, emitted 1,715 million tonnes of CO2 and produced 92 million tonnes of waste in 2015 worldwide. These figures will increase by 50% between now and 2030 according to trends (Source: GFA).
Thus, the quantity of textile waste is accumulating, mainly in landfills and incinerators. In addition, synthetic fibres are depleting our fossil resources and polluting our oceans with microplastics. As for pesticides and chemicals, massively used for conventional cotton cultivation and textile manufacturing processes, they add up to the enormous amount of water consumed to pollute soils and rivers.

A media denunciation
Greenpeace’s Detox campaign in 2011 highlighted the massive use of toxic chemicals used by the textile industry. As a result, brands have been forced to be more transparent.
However, greenwashing is becoming increasingly common in the fashion industry. As a result, the media and consumers are suspicious of the “100% green” communications of certain brands. Therefore, retailers must redouble their efforts to prove their good faith.

The awakening of the French government
Following all these observations, the government voted the Anti-waste law for a circular economy, forcing the textile world to adapt. It imposes transparent environmental communication on substances, environmental impacts and sorting gestures from 2022 onwards. It also promotes the reuse and recycling of textile products.

As you well understand, these challenges are interdependent and difficult to meet, given the complexity of the textile industry. However, the sector must meet the expectations of the media and consumers. A systemic and cross-cutting approach is needed to meet these challenges.
Meeting these challenges should not be seen as a constraint, but rather as a market opportunity as well as a response to a longstanding demand.