Sustainability in the apparel industry

What's impact along the supply chain?

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1
Fiber production

For any piece of apparel, the first step is to produce the fiber that is used to produce it. This could be synthetic fibers, cellulose, cotton, or other natural fibers.

Cotton is sometimes referred to as the dirtiest fiber in the world – more than 16% of global insecticides are used for its production. Growing cotton for one jeans and one t-shirt takes 20.000 liters of water.

Organic cotton and other natural fibers might be a solution, but they account for less than 1% of global cotton industry.

2
Yarn preparation

Processing the raw fibers to yarn is a process that requires a lot of energy. A lot of different machines are involved to process the unstable, irregular fibers and filament to a durable yarn.

3
Fabric production

The knitting and weaving of yarn into fabric is a step in the production chain that takes a comparably little amount of energy. However, almost 10% of the impact of the apparel industry occurs by producing the fabric.

4
Dyeing & finishing

Dyeing and finishing accounts for more than a quarter of the footprint of the apparel industry. It is the most energy intensive stage, as dyeing has a high energy demand due to wet processes which require large amounts of heated water. Many chemicals, such as bleach, are used in this step.

5
Assembly

Assembling apparel accounts for only 5% of the footprint of the apparel industry. It is labor intensive, but a lot of the labor is still conducted manually, and the energy requirements of the machines are more moderate. However, the social implications of manufacturing clothing are a prominent subject of dispute.

6
Distribution

The distribution and retail of the clothing we wear accounts only for 1% of the total footprint.

7
Use phase

The consumer use phase is where the product is handled, washed, repaired, and possibly passed on. The magnitude of this phase’s impact involves assumptions about consumer behaviors, which vary widely in the real world. The main drivers are the energy and water consumption from washing, as well as energy-intensive drying.

8
End of life

The recycling rates for textile vary regionally. But overall, not enough gets recycled! Still, the footprint of the apparel industry does not significantly get affected by the waste created.

Sustainability in Apparel & Fashion

Green fashion starts with controlling your supply chain.

Analyze the environmental impact of your supply chain and find key levers to make your business more sustainable. Convince conscious customers with transparency and a sustainable advantage.
Sustainability In Textile & Fashion
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How a Dutch fashion brand is becoming more sustainable with Ecochain

Making Apparel And Fashion More Sustainable

THE GOAL

One of our clients – a Dutch female fashion brand – signed the Dutch Agreement on Sustainable Garment and Textile. This meant they needed to define reduction targets for 2023 and create transparency within their supply chain.

THE problem

The fashion supply chain is extremely complex. But how can an international fashion brand with thousands of products set goals if they don’t have insights into their supply chain?

The solution

Together with Ecochain, the brand modeled different user scenarios to investigate the environmental hotspots in its supply chain. The company was able to identify 3 key areas in which it could significantly reduce their environmental emissions. The result? A clear roadmap to create clear reduction goals and reach them.

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