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Changing Markets Foundation: Fashion industry must end addiction to fossil fuels

·3 min read

LONDON, Nov. 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- CEOs of the 20 biggest fashion brands in the world have been contacted today by Changing Markets and Stand Earth with demands that they halve the amount of fossil fuel they use in materials by 2030.

Nike, Primark, Patagonia and ASOS are among those named in Changing Markets Foundation's Synthetics Anonymous report.

The foundation is demanding complete transparency on their use of fossil fuels in the next 12 months - with oil and gas most commonly being used by brands to create synthetic materials such as polyester.

Changing Markets found synthetic fibres represent over two-thirds (69 percent) of all materials used in textiles, requiring more oil than the annual consumption of Spain.

This amount is expected to reach nearly three-quarters by 2030, accounting for double the annual emissions of Australia.

Brands such as Nike and Inditex, the parent group of Zara and Massimo Dutti, both use 10 million gallons of oil each year to produce their garments, while most other brands fail to transparently disclose their reliance on synthetics.

This is in stark contrast with sustainability pledges and commitments made by many brands such as H&M, Walmart and Marks & Spencer ahead of the climate summit.

As part of its Synthetics Anonymous report, Changing Markets Foundation surveyed 46 of the top fashion houses on their use of synthetic materials.

The research found some brands have reported almost 90 percent of their collection as being produced from fossil fuels.

Of the companies surveyed, only one company has made clear commitments to phase out the use of synthetic fibres from their collections: VF Corp brand, Icebreaker, has committed to phasing out all synthetics, including recycled synthetics, by 2023.

Speaking at COP26 in Glasgow George Harding-Rolls, Campaigns Adviser at the Changing Markets Foundation said: "The fashion industry uses a significant amount of oil and gas to produce cheap fast fashion garments, yet its addiction to fossil fuels flies under the radar."

"Each year, the production of synthetic fibres, such as polyester, produces the same amount of greenhouse gas emissions as 180 coal power plants and this is set to nearly double by 2030. These same brands will be at COP26 profiling how committed they are to stopping climate change – today we are calling out their hypocrisy."

Cheap synthetic fibres have become the most significant driver of fast fashion's overproduction and overconsumption. Polyester – fast fashion's preferred fibre – costs half the price of cotton and its use has more than doubled since 2000.

As production has boomed, the average person now buys 60% more clothing items than 15 years ago and we are throwing away almost as much clothing as we produce every year.

Livia Firth, Founder and Creative Director of Eco-Age said: "The research undertaken by Changing Markets has revealed the shocking extent to which fashion brands rely on fossil fuels to mass produce fashion lines at increasingly low prices."

Heavy use of plastic fibres has also seen an exponential rise in invisible microfibres, which are damaging to human and environmental health, yet this remains a persistent blind spot for the industry.

Maria Westerbos, Director of Plastic Soup Foundation said: "It's frightening to know that airborne microplastics from synthetic clothes get into the human body, becoming engulfed by immune cells which can cause significant inflammation. Our bodies are simply not equipped to break down these particles, so the question is: how much damage are they causing? This way, fast fashion becomes fatal fashion."

To read the report in full visit: http://changingmarkets.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/SyntheticsAnonymous_FinalWeb.pdf