August 1, 2022

Getting thrifty: Study looks at how to cut fashion’s high emissions

By brit

SINGAPORE – The global fashion industry is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and a report, the first of its kind in Singapore, found that the sector’s highest emissions occur during the production processes behind the creation of new fashion products bought in the Republic.

The Towards Zero Fashion Waste Market Study was commissioned by Textile and Fashion Federation Singapore (TaFF) with the support of Enterprise Singapore, which champions enterprise development locally, and conducted by PwC Singapore, a professional services firm.

The findings were shared during the Be the Change fashion sustainability summit launched by TaFF on July 6.

TaFF launched its fashion sustainability programme in November last year and commissioned the study then.

The study also gathered global assessments from past studies, beyond its focus on the local fashion sector.

It found that the fashion and textile sector has an outsized environmental impact, with Global Apparel & Footwear (GHG) emissions totalling about 3.7 billion tonnes, or about seven per cent of total global emissions.

This is larger than the combined emissions of Japan, Germany, Britain and France.

A total of 1.5 trillion litres of water are used by the fashion industry annually, says the report, while 23kg of greenhouse gases are generated for each kilogram of fabric.

For fashion products bought in Singapore, 39 per cent of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions occurs during yarn spinning, fabrics production and products assembly, says the report.

This shows the benefit of buying second-hand clothing or donating used items to cut fashion-related emissions.

The findings come as growing demands for the earth’s resources, carbon emissions and pollution take a growing toll on the planet.

July 28 this year marked Earth Overshoot Day, the date when humanity used up what Earth can possibly regenerate in that year. The underlying message of the day is the urgent need to review consumer lifestyles, including fashion.

“We wanted to understand actionable gaps in circularity in fashion today in the Singapore context, especially when fashion is generally known to be a pollutive industry,” said Ms Carolyn Poon, director of sustainability at TaFF.

The gaps addressed in the study outline the positive contributions that the local fashion scene can make to ensure a greener Singapore.