Research Outline

Waste in clothing industries


To obtain statistics on waste in the clothing industry (fast fashion and in general) for a zero waste marketing campaign.

Early Findings

Fashion industry statistics on waste

  • Fashion brand Burberry admits to destroying unsold clothes, accessories, and perfume rather than sell it cheaply to protect its brand identity and value. It had reportedly burned £30m ($40m) worth of stocks in July 2018.
  • The 2017 Pulse of the Fashion Industry report (GFA and the Boston Consulting Group), states that in 2015, the global textiles and clothing industry was responsible for 92 million tons of waste and is predicted to increase by at least 50% by 2030.
  • According to The New York Times, 85% of textile waste in the U.S goes to landfill or is incinerated. More than 60% of fabric fibers are synthetics, derived from fossil fuels. If such clothing items eventually go to landfills, it will not decay.
  • According to Edge-Fashion Intelligence, second to oil, the clothing and textile industry is the largest polluter in the world. Nearly 20% of global waste is produced by the fashion industry.
  • According to Research Gate, 15% of fabric that is intended to be used for clothing ends up on the cutting room floor and this waste has been tolerated in the industry for decades.
  • Research Gate reports that European Union consumers discard 5.8 million tonnes of textiles annually and only 26% is recycled.
  • According to the Sage Journals, the amount of textile waste that goes to landfill in the UK and US are estimated to be 350,000 tons and 9.5 million tons respectively. In China, the annual rate is 20 million.
  • CS Monitor states that according to the city's Environmental Protection Department, more than 340 tons of textile waste is dumped into the city's overflowing landfills daily in Hong Kong. This amounts to 100,000 tons annually.

Other findings

  • The Guardian has reported that the fashion industry contributes more to climate change than the aeronautical and shipping industries combined. The fashion industry is expected to account for a quarter of the world's carbon budget by 2050.
  • According to Mckinsey, across every apparel category, consumers are keeping clothing items only half as long as they did 15 years ago. According to estimates, consumers treat the lowest priced clothing items as disposable and discards them after wearing them seven to eight times.