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Fast fashion’s waste problem could be solved by recycled textiles but brands need to help boost production

Brands like Zara and H&M are teaming up with recycled textile producers but more collaboration is needed.

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Fascinadora/Shutterstock

Earlier this year, fast fashion retailer Zara released its first womenswear collection made of recycled poly-cotton textile waste. The collection is available for sale in 11 countries, helping clothing made of blended textile waste reach the mass market.

The collection came about after Zara’s parent company Inditex invested in textile recycler Circ. This follows a €100 million (£87 million) deal between Inditex and Finnish textile recycler Infinited Fiber Company for 30% of its recycled output. Zara’s fast fashion rival H&M has also entered a five-year contract with Swedish textile recycler Renewcell to acquire 9,072 tonnes of recycled fibre – equivalent to 50 million T-shirts.

There is a growing appetite among some fashion retailers to turn old clothes into high-quality fibres, and then into new clothes. But even though well-known brands are developing lines using recycled textiles, this movement has not yet reached the scale needed to have a truly global impact.

Before this recent growth in interest in textile recycling, fast fashion’s efforts to tackle throwaway attitudes towards affordable clothing often simply added to the global textile waste mountain – especially in developing countries, say campaigners like Greenpeace.

For example, a skirt deposited at a London chain store under a take-back scheme was reportedly found in a landfill in Bamako, Mali. This is not an isolated incident, it’s a sector-wide problem that sees old clothes being collected but not disposed of properly. An estimated 15 million used clothing items are shipped to Ghana each week from around the world and many end up in the country’s landfills. This is often referred to as waste colonialism.

The fast fashion industry needs greater access to recycled textiles to address this problem. But this means having the means to track “thrown-away” garments to collect those suitable for recycling. The industry also needs facilities that are big enough to turn this waste into new materials for clothing at the scale needed to meet mass market demand.

This is particularly important as these firms prepare for an EU crackdown on the region’s own waste mountain. Following the EU strategy for Sustainable and Circular textiles 2022, the European Commission is drafting new legislation over the next five years to make the fashion industry pay for the cost of processing discarded clothing.

Under the new EU rules, companies will be expected to collect waste equivalent to a certain percentage of their production. While the exact amount has not yet been confirmed yet, European commissioner for the environment Virginijus Sinkevičius has said it will “definitely” be more than 5% of production. Companies may have to pay a fee (reportedly equivalent to €0.12 per T-shirt) towards local authorities’ waste collection work.

White store background with sales display of grey coat, tree and light behind white clothing collection bin.
Many stores offer collection bins for old clothes. Inditex

But fast fashion brands must ensure that this doesn’t just dump the problem of textile waste into other countries’ landfills. Instead, developing lines out of recycled textiles could give these old clothes a new lease of life.

A Fashion Pact signed by more than 160 brands (a third of the sector by volume) commits companies to ensure that, by 2025, 25% of the raw materials such as textiles that they use have a low impact on the environment – recycled fibre is considered a low-impact material. Some brands have set more ambitious targets, including Adidas, which has committed to using 100% recycled plastics by 2024, and Zara-owner Inditex, which pledged to source 40% of its fibres from recycling processes by 2030.

These impending deadlines, plus the EU legislation, should motivate brands to use more recycled fibres. While the supply of such material is currently limited, an influx of recycling start-ups are finding ways to turn old clothes into new fibres that replicate the look and feel of virgin materials.

Start-ups like Spinnova, Renewcell and Infinited Fibre have developed chemical recycling technologies to create new fibres from cotton-rich clothing. And while cheap low-cost blended materials like poly-cotton are difficult to separate and recycle, firms like Worn Again, Envrnu, and Circ are tackling this problem, too.

Worn Again plans to build a new recycling demo plant in Switzerland, paving the way for 40 licensed plants by 2040, which would be capable of processing 1.8 million tonnes of textile waste per year.

Taking textile recycling from hype to reality

Up to 26% of Europe’s textile waste could be recycled by 2030, according to some estimates, according to a 2022 McKinsey report. This would generate €3.5-€4.5 billion in economic output for the EU, create 15,000 new jobs, and save 3.6 million tonnes of CO². But only 1% of textiles are currently being recycled globally into new clothes – the recycling technology needed for this shift is still in its infancy.

Part of the challenge in scaling up textile recycling to this degree is the lack of information available about what happens to clothes that are thrown away. Sharing data on the volume, locations and compositions of waste generated in the supply chain and collected post-consumption would help evaluate the full potential of textile recycling. Companies like Reverse Resources already provide online databases of information on textile waste – in this case for a global network of 70 recyclers, 44 waste handlers and 1,287 manufacturers in 24 countries.

Bales of clothes stacked in piles in a warehouse.
A textile recycling centre. Martin de Jong/Shutterstock

Increasing textile recycling will require a collaborative approach, as will the development of the technology needed to create high-quality recycled textiles. Brands, investors, suppliers, recyclers, technology providers and local governments must come together to find ways to grow the textile recycling industry. The recent New Cotton Project that involves 12 brands (including H&M group and Adidas), manufacturers, suppliers and research institutes is a first step towards increasing textile recycling.

More money is also needed from all of these groups. To reach the recycling rate of 18%-26% by 2030, it will take billions in infrastructure investment for collecting, sorting and processing textile waste.

Textile recycling is no longer for a few “sustainable” fashion firms – it is quickly becoming a reality that no fast fashion firm can ignore. Shoppers must demand that the brands they love show their commitment to textile recycling beyond marketing campaigns and low-volume fashion collections.

The authors do not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and have disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

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Tesla rival Stellantis unveils its lowest price electric vehicles

The Big Three automaker unveils details on its low-priced electric vehicles that will be delivered over the next two years.

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Electric vehicle manufacturers have realized that the prices of their cars are making it more difficult for many of them to compete against makers of lower-priced internal combustion engine vehicles.

Tesla saw its third quarter deliveries fall below market estimates, prompting Elon Musk's company in early October to lower the list price of the Model 3 from $40,240 to $38,990 and its industry leading seller Model Y has recently fallen from $47,740 to $43,990.

Related: Tesla Japanese rivals debut concept vehicles in latest challenge

Tesla top rival Ford already cut the price of its all-electric Mustang Mach-E by up to $4,000 in May and its F-150 Lightning by about $10,000 in July.

Stellantis revealing entry-level electric cars

Stellantis  (STLA) - Get Free Report has been busy revealing low-priced entry-level electric vehicles that it plans to begin selling in 2024 to compete with French automaker Renault in Europe as well as Chinese EV companies. The company in August said it would unveil a second new entry-level Fiat-branded electric vehicle in July 2024 that will be priced less than €25,000 or about $27,390. The company, however, didn't say when the vehicle might be sold in the U.S.

The company said in June that it will deliver the new Citroën e-C3 electric car to Europe in early 2024. The Citroën e-C3 was expected to have a range of 186 miles on a charge and would be among lowest priced EVs on the market. Stellantis had already said it would bring Fiat's best-selling EV, the Fiat 500e, to the U.S. market in 2024 to compete against Tesla and the growing U.S. EV market.

Citroën e-C3 all-electric subcompact hatchback.

Stellantis

Big Three automaker unveils its low-priced electric vehicles

Stellantis on Oct. 17 revealed its updated all-new, all-electric Citroën e-C3, which is its first European-designed, European-built B-segment, or subcompact, EV hatchback. The new vehicle is now estimated to have a 199-mile range, charging 20% to 80% of capacity in as little as 26 minutes. The EV accelerates 0 to 62 mph in 11 seconds with a provisional top speed of 84 mph for everyday driving and traffic in urban and suburban areas.

The company estimates that the vehicle will be priced below £23,000 ($27,900) in the UK. No word yet if the Citroën e-C3 will roll out in the U.S.

In 2025, Stellantis will offer a Citroën e-C3 with a 200 km- or 124-mile range and priced at €19,990 or $21,068, the company said. That price would be lower than any new EV sold in the U.S. today. General Motors  (GM) - Get Free Report Chevy Bolt's lowest manufacturer suggest retail price is $26,500, while the 2024 Nissan  (NSANY) - Get Free Report Leaf has a starting price of $28,140.

The new Citroën e-C3 will be available in three versions You, Plus and Max. The You version's standard equipment includes LED headlights, Citroën Advanced Comfort Suspension, Active Safety Brake, the new Citroën Head Up Display, ‘My Citroen Play with Smartphone Station’ for infotainment, electric door mirrors, auto lighting, rear parking radar, rear spoiler, cruise control, manual air conditioning, and six airbags.

Plus vehicles include 17-inch alloy wheels, Citroën’s two-tone paint with contrasting roof, decorative roof rails, front and rear skid plates, the 10.25-inch color touchscreen with smartphone mirroring, Citroën Advanced Comfort Seats, auto wipers, power-folding and heated door mirrors, leather-effect steering wheel, 60/40 folding second-row seat, and driver seat adjustment.

The premium Max version additionally has LED rear lights, rear privacy glass, enhanced seat textiles, automatic air conditioning, 3D navigation, wireless charging, rear camera, electrochrome rear-view mirror, and rear power windows.

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Putin, Xi In Beijing Pitch For ‘Alternative World Order’ As Biden Departs A Burning Middle East

Putin, Xi In Beijing Pitch For ‘Alternative World Order’ As Biden Departs A Burning Middle East

As a Rabobank note has highlighted, the main…

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Putin, Xi In Beijing Pitch For 'Alternative World Order' As Biden Departs A Burning Middle East

As a Rabobank note has highlighted, the main theme on display during Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin's Wednesday talks in Beijing was one of "common threats" bringing the two "dear friends" closer, according to a press readout. Observed Rabobank earlier in the day, "Meanwhile, as the Middle East rages and the West recoils, Xi Jinping welcomes Russia’s Putin and a host of Global South leaders, ex-India, to his Beijing Belt and Road Forum to talk about what an alternative world order might look like. The ‘global’ Western press mostly failed to even cover it."

Putin said at a media briefing following the meeting with his Chinese counterpart, "We discussed in detail the situation in the Middle East." He added: "I informed Chairman (Xi) about the situation that is developing on the Ukrainian track, also quite in detail." The Russian leader then emphasized: 

"All these external factors are common threats, and they strengthen Russian-Chinese interaction."

AFP/Getty Images

CNN subsequently called it a "pitch for a new world order" at a moment crisis has gripped the Middle East.

Yet, almost simultaneously, Bloomberg reported that Biden is overseeing a fast unfolding disaster in the Middle East:

President Joe Biden’s 7.5-hour trip to Tel Aviv signaled full US backing for Israel but fell short on another key goal: winning over Arab leaders.

Amid growing signs the conflict may be spinning out of control, Biden made plain that the US will protect its ally, sending a clear message to rivals in the region like Iran to stay out of the fight. With one US aircraft carrier in the area and another on the way, Biden promised a new package of “unprecedented support.”

The Bloomberg headline aptly reads, "Biden’s Whirlwind Israel Trip Fails to Calm Fears of Wider Middle East Conflict." At this time, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt are on edge - with Western and Saudi embassies reducing staff and issuing travel advisories. 

Meanwhile, related to Xi's Belt and Road (the purpose of the gathering in Beijing), Putin praised the potential for it to usher in a "fairer, multi-polar world" as Moscow and Beijing grow closer based on "deep friendship"

In his speech at the opening ceremony, Putin hailed Xi’s flagship foreign policy Belt and Road Initiative as “aiming to form a fairer, multi-polar world,” while touting his country’s deep alignment with China.

Russia and China share an “aspiration for equal and mutually beneficial cooperation,” which includes “respecting civilization diversity and the right of every state for their own development model” – he added, in an apparent push back against calls for authoritarian leaders to promote human rights and political freedoms at home.

This is at a moment Putin is "wanted" by the International Criminal Court (ICC) and shunned and sanctioned by the West, while at the same time Global South countries are expressing growing anger at Israel's unrelenting bombing of the Gaza Strip, as the Palestinian death toll soars into the thousands.

Directly related to this, a Thursday UN Security Council resolution brought by Brazil and seeking a ceasefire in Gaza was shot down, given the US was the only "no" vote.

Also missed by the mainstream media was the following pro-China sentiment expressed by a top Palestinian official over a week ago:

China will soon lead the world, and it supports the “Palestinian position, whatever it may be,” according to Fatah’s Central Committee member Abbas Zaki.

In a public address that aired on Palestine TV on Sept. 29, Abbas Zaki called on the United States to “reconsider its stance” with regard to Israel or risk becoming irrelevant. The Israelis, he said, were “sons of bitches,” “murderers” and agents of instability, while the Palestinians are “messengers of peace.”

“I know that there is serious change in Europe and even in the United States,” said Zaki.

But, he added, “do not forget the emerging camp, which is on your side—the Chinese camp. China is going to lead the world, and it proclaims: ‘There can be no stability and progress without the liberation of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital.'”

Putin too, has expressed more sympathies with the Palestinian side, days ago warning Israel of the "catastrophic" death toll its attacks on Gaza will result in. He has also held calls with Arab leaders, seeking to mediate peace and a possible two-state solution.

Tyler Durden Wed, 10/18/2023 - 19:40

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Survey delivers bleak news for remote workers

Remote work is increasingly under fire.

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Covid-era alternative work solutions have come under fire as businesses increasingly deploy a carrot-and-stick approach to convincing employees to return to offices.

Technology titan Meta Platforms  (META) - Get Free Report, which owns Facebook, threatened poor performance reviews if workers failed to attend offices three times weekly. JP Morgan Chase  (JPM) - Get Free Report CEO Jamie Dimon recently suggested workers uncomfortable with returning to offices should look for employment elsewhere.

Workers don’t like the idea of giving up the flexibility afforded by remote work, but a recent survey shows that these workers may face an uphill battle if they hope to continue working from home.

A woman working on a laptop in a cafe, on Sept. 14, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Artur Widak/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

NurPhoto/Getty Images

Remote work loses its luster

Companies big and small rushed to offer flexible alternative work schedules like remote and hybrid work during Covid. Remote work quickly became a key benefit used to fill jobs created by those who took early retirement and newly created positions in response to demand growth fueled by easy-money policies.

Related: Facebook issues more tough-luck news to workers

Remote work initially appeared to be a win/win for companies and employees. It allowed businesses to source job candidates nationally rather than locally and sometimes save money by closing expensive offices. Meanwhile, workers could live in the suburbs rather than crowded cities and save money by eliminating expensive childcare costs.

Unfortunately, the love affair with remote work has soured over the past year.

Businesses, from technology to financial services, have rolled back remote work, citing a need for increased collaboration and greater productivity. Many companies have likely sought to reduce the number of remote workers as part of layoff plans or to fill otherwise vacant office spaces.

Businesses are winning the return-to-office battle

Worker surveys suggest employees prefer remote work. However, they’re losing the battle with employers demanding more office face time.

The Census Bureau’s latest Household Pulse Survey shows remote work has reached a new post-pandemic low, with declines seen in all 50 states, reports Bloomberg.

More Jobs:

The survey showed that fewer than 26% of households include someone who works remotely at least one day weekly. That’s a significant drop-off from the high of 37% in 2021. A total of 31 states had remote work rates above 33% at the peak. Now, only seven states exceed that hurdle.

States with the highest percentages of remote workers are typically Democratic states, mainly on the east and west coasts. Middle America and the South boast some of the lowest rates of remote work.

There’s also a more significant push for a return to office (RTO) in major metro markets where office building valuations are tumbling because of empty offices. During its recent quarterly conference call, Goldman Sachs  (GS) - Get Free Report told investors that it reduced valuations on office properties in its portfolio by 50%.

The impact of lower valuations on financial companies could contribute to the stricter return to office demands. Big banks like JP Morgan have been among the most vocal in demanding RTO, and they’re also heavily exposed to commercial real estate.

For instance, in addition to loans held on commercial properties, JP Morgan is building a new multibillion-dollar headquarters in New York City.

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