Carbon footprint is the term used to evaluate the total emission of greenhouse gases by human activities. Manufacturer for clothes is identified as one of the largest producers of greenhouse gases all over the world.
On average, making 1 kg of fabric releases 20-23 kg of greenhouse gas, and the industry is estimated to account for 4-10% of human-made global greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2008, the global clothing brand manufacturers reached 60 billion kg of fabric. It had consumed around 1074 billion kW h of electricity (which is equivalent to 132 million tons of coal) and approximately 9 trillion liters of water. Among the total consumption of electricity for textiles, only 15%–20% was consumed in the production of textiles and most of the remaining electricity was consumed in laundering processes.
Carbon Footprint in Textile Industry
Clothing manufacturer products create carbon footprint in each phase of their life cycle; from sourcing the raw materials to its laundry and disposal. However, 70% of the clothes factories emissions come from the production process, during fibre production and clothing manufacture.
Polyester is the most commonly used fibre, accounting for 52.2% of global fibre production in 2019. In 2015 alone, the production of polyester for textiles was estimated to release over 706 billion kg of greenhouse gases.
Cotton is a naturally-sourced, plant-based fibre, but any carbon it removes from the atmosphere as it grows is offset by the greenhouse gases released by the production and application of fertilizers and pesticides to the growing plants. While cotton produces less greenhouse gas than polyester, it uses up 20x more water. A single cotton shirt requires 2700 liters of water to produce.
Overall, the manufacturers for clothes consume around 79 billion liters of water every year. And it’s not just in fibre production; water is used in the dyeing, finishing and washing stages too.
Because 90% of the world’s clothing is produced in low- and middle-income countries (due to the cheaper cost of labour), developing countries bear most of the burden of this environmental pollution despite accounting for only a small amount of clothing consumption. Use of these chemicals is also dangerous for the factory workers themselves. Daily exposure can have significant health consequences, and poor political infrastructure and business management in many countries means that occupational and safety standards are often not enforced in textile factories. In 2015, 14 million industry workers were paid less than half of the living wage required to meet basic needs, and 1.4 million workplace injuries were recorded.
In addiction, almost 60% of all clothing produced is thrown out within a year of its production, ending up in landfill or being incinerated. Waste also occurs at earlier stages of the fashion supply chain; 10-20% of fabric is wasted while it is cut into clothes and millions of dollars of unsold clothing are burnt every year, releasing greenhouse gases and pollution into the air.
Besides that, most textiles and clothing are produced in countries that rely mainly on fossil fuels for energy production, like China. The textile industry uses a lot of energy, so switching to clean energy sources, like solar, wind and nuclear, and increasing energy efficiency is the most effective way to reduce the industry’s carbon footprint.
Even with some exciting innovations, significant improvements will require systemic change. Doing this requires transparency within the supply chain; manufacturers for clothes must establish higher labour and environmental standards, and both environmental and social concerns need to be considered at every stage.
Some brands are already making changes in the right direction, but manufacturers, brands and governments will need to work together to have a significant impact.
As well as commitments from big businesses, we also need changes in consumer behavior.
Retailers and brands also have a responsibility to raise consumer awareness about the high energy requirements of washing, drying and ironing their clothes. Reducing washing temperatures and frequency, as well as avoiding tumble-drying, will reduce carbon emissions and water consumption while preventing the release of microfibers into our waterways
With the growth of civilization, textiles become much more than a primary need for individuals. The per capita consumption of clothing increases exponentially with the improved living standard and fashion consciousness of the people.
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Final Words – CFB Carbon Footprint
At CFB we pride ourselves in being Sustainable Clothing Manufacturers, adopting ethical and sustainable practices throughout product development including, waste minimization and recycling, resource efficiency and use of local supply chain.
We have spent the last 10 years researching and developing eco-friendly fabrics and sustainable methods of production.
We have implemented on our factories several measures to protect our planet and lower CO2 emissions:
- 55% of the electricity used by our factories comes from a green source, Solar Energy, photovoltaic panels
- The water of the boilers on our factories is pre-heated with Solar Panels
- All industrial waste is recycled
- Our factories floor plants use special roofing materials with major thermal isolation
- We have applied UV Ray Protection Films on all our factories windows to reduce air conditioning usage
- We use controlled tabs for water saving
- All our factories use eco-friendly lighting (bulbs and tube lights)
- We use energy-efficient machines in our production lines
- We have a strong recycling program that separates materials such as paper, plastic, batteries and fabrics
- Whenever possible we reinvest part of our profits in modernizing our facilities and processes making them as green as possible