The textile industry is a big business, but it’s also a massive waste industry.
Over the past few decades, it’s been hit hard by the increasing availability of environmentally friendly textile products and a growing body of research that suggests a more sustainable approach to textile production could actually be more cost-effective.
According to a new report from the American Sustainable Business Council, there’s been a steady increase in the amount of waste generated by textile recycling businesses over the last few decades.
The report found that the total amount of textile waste generated worldwide in 2012 was a whopping 9.6 billion tons, up by nearly 50 percent from 2005.
In the United States alone, textile recycling accounted for $2.7 trillion in waste in 2012.
So why is it so hard for textile recycling firms to keep up?
A large portion of the industry’s waste is actually waste generated after the textile is processed, according to the report.
For example, waste generated during the process of wrapping the garment in polyester or other fabric, as well as when the garment is dyed, is often reused for textile products, including clothes.
And in a process that involves hundreds of millions of square feet of waste each year, it can be difficult to separate out the waste from the textile, according the report, which cites data from the United Nations World Trade Organization and the World Bank.
In a statement, American Sustainable Trade Council executive director Mark Stokes said the report “underlines the importance of textile recycling to the global textile industry and underscores that we must remain vigilant and continue to invest in sustainable manufacturing practices to address our industry’s greatest environmental and human health challenges.”